Aquino defends Cabinet anew from Napoles' allegations

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III is not inclined to believe the story of alleged pork barrel queen Janet Napoles dragging at least two of his Cabinet officials into the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Aquino, in an interview in Palawan where he attended the 116th anniversary of the Philippine Navy, said that Napoles, who came out with two affidavits, should back up her allegations with proof.

"I need to see the evidence," he said.


The President said that he was open to the possibility that Napoles was just trying to muddle the issue.

"Sinabi ko naman sa inyo from the start, hindi ba bukas tayo sa posibilidad na ang ginagawa lang niya ay guluhin iyong istorya habang dumadami ng dumadami, dumadami ng dumadami iyong iimbestigahan natin. Dulo kakaimbestiga, kakaimbestiga na-time's up na tayo. Hindi na nasampa iyong kaso baka iyong ang strategy," he said.

He even cited the observation of other people that since Napoles could not defend herself, she would try to drag other people to make her look good.

"So, wala tayong pakialam sa lahat na iyon. Ang habol natin, ang pangako natin sa taumbayan, may ebidensiya, sampahan ng kaso," he said.

In one of Napoles' affidavits, she included Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala as among those involved in the PDAF scam.

She even mentioned that Abad, when he was still a congressman of Batanes, thought her of the scheme.

Instead of believing Napoles on his allegations against Abad, Aquino cited the reforms that the Budget chief initiated in the government.

"Now, ano ang mga pinaggagawa ni Secretary Abad? For instance, increase transparency," he said, citing the participatory budgeting wherein the public could immediately see on the website where a particular budget goes, the removal of the special allotment release order (Saro), the implementation of single treasury account and cashless transactions.

In the case of Alcala, Aquino said he could not see where his direct involvement in the pork barrel controversy is.

Abad again denied that he dealt with Napoles in any manner, much less through an agent or a middleman.

He even recalled that in 2010, a number of employees of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) informed him that Napoles dropped by his office in an attempt to introduce herself, but was unsuccessful in securing an appointment with him.

"How is it possible for Ms. Napoles to have a close professional relationship with me when she has been trying -- with great effort, it appears -- to make my acquaintance for years now? It's nothing short of ridiculous," he said.

"Her claims about me amount to deception of the sorriest caliber, holding up poorly to scrutiny and collapsing in the face of facts. What a disservice her statement is to the people who've been waiting to hear the truth all these months. But should we be surprised? Ms. Napoles' history has made one thing clear to all of us: the Filipino people's best interests mean nothing to her," he added. (SDR/Sunnex)

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