The Cabinet members implicated to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam should stop being a burden to President Benigno Aquino 3rd and resign, a group of lawmakers said on Tuesday.
Opposition lawmakers Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of Leyte, Jonathan dela Cruz of Abakada party-list and Joselito Atienza of Buhay Hayaang Yumabong party-list issued their call to Budget and Management Secretary Butch Abad, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Director General Joel Villanueva of the Technical Educations and Skills Development Authority.
Abad was tagged as the mentor of Janet Lim Napoles, while Alcala and Villanueva were said to have channeled public funds to questionable non-government organizations during their tenure in Congress.
“I pity the President because he is constantly defending his men. I find it quite unusual. It’s the Cabinet members who should be defending the President and his policies, to the point that it is the members of the Cabinet who will resign if the President failed in a certain policy,” Romualdez said in a press briefing.
“The President has a lot of political capital and he is spending too much of that to defend his men. They should spare the President of such burden and give him a break,” Romualdez added.
Dela Cruz and Atienza chided Abad for claiming that his being linked to the PDAF mess is meant to undermine Aquino.
“If Secretary Abad believes that the target is the President, he should show proof. Is he hiding some information? Does he know some people that have been involved in this particular activity that they are trying to protect?” dela Cruz said.
“The President is the target? How come? Abad should not hide behind the President. He cannot function under this cloud of national suspicion. If so, he has a little sense of patriotism. Delicadeza dictates that he should step aside,” Atienza added.
But Aquino on Tuesday belittled the latest affidavit sumitted by Napoles, saying the latest version could have been hatched by those involved to prolong the resolution of the case.
At the sidelines of the 116th anniversary of the Philippine Navy held in Palawan province, Aquino said he suspects that some of the personalities who were directly involved in the anomaly are only trying to muddle the issue.
“I don’t have evidence right now. But I know personalities who are actively trying to muddle the issue,” the President told reporters.
The president said he “does not care” about the allegations being raised against anybody.
“I need to see the evidence,” he emphasized.
Aquino credited Abad for the “innovations” he introduced in the government, noting that Napoles never implicated the Budget chief in any anomaly under Aquino’s watch. He said Abad even “increased transparency” and reformed government budgeting.