Ambassador dared to show proof of extortion


Malacañang is confident that allegations of extortion surrounding the government’s Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT) project will not affect the public’s perception on the Aquino administration’s purported campaign against corruption.

Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda over the weekend said that the exposé of the Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar would not tarnish the government’s “tuwid na daan” (straight path) advocacy.

“Why should it? Every time there is an issue on corruption we have always asked the party to present us evidence,” Lacierda said.

“It is no different just because an ambassador said it,” he added.

The Palace spokesperson urged anybody who has any charge or claim of corruption to present evidence so that Malacañang could investigate.

“We have embarked on a campaign against corruption and, therefore, we will investigate all allegations of corruption provided that there’s evidence that will be submitted to the investigating body,” he said.

”That’s the only request that we have always maintained. That’s the standard request that we have always maintained,” Lacierda added.

He also maintained, “There are men and women in government; the President, foremost among them, is determined in this fight against corruption.”

Rychtar earlier revealed that there were irregularities involving a Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT) project.

The ambassador accused Transportation Undersecretaries Jose Lotilla, Rene Limcaoco, Catherine Gonzales and Assistant Secretary Jaime Feliciano of demanding $30 million in exchange for the approval of the Czech proposal.

The allegation initially included President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s eldest sister, Maria Elena “Ballsy” Cruz, and her husband Eldon. The Palace had denied this.

Meanwhile, Lacierda official asked the ambassador to cooperate with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) led by Secretary Emilio Abaya, who initiated investigations on the said allegations.

”It requires every person, including the Czech ambassador, to submit allegations of corruption—to submit evidence to prove these allegations, and that’s what due process is all about, and that’s the reason why we urge the Czech ambassador to cooperate,” he said.

”We are asking the Czech ambassador . . . as in any accusation, present us evidence and we will investigate, “ Lacierda added.

The Palace earlier allowed the DOTC to probe the allegations. Documents had also been forwarded to the Ombudsman by former DOTC secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd to allow further investigations.


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