Despite the ongoing controversy surrounding Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) director general Joel Villanueva, President Benigno Aquino 3rd continues to have full trust in him, a Malacanang spokesman said.
In an ambush interview, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that Villanueva “still enjoys the President’s full trust and confidence.”
Coloma cited Villanueva’s readiness to face any allegations raised against him.
“Hinarap naman niya [Villanueva] ang mga paratang sa kanya. Siya na mismo ang nag-volunteer ng mga impormasyon at dokumento na kinakailangan. Di naman siya umiiwas doon,” he said.
The statement was issued after Villanueva’s name appeared on the list prepared by Dennis Cunanan, the government’s newest witness in the pork barrel scam case.
The list supposedly contained the names of those who gave their pork barrel funds to bogus non-government organizations linked to alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Villanueva, a former Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption party-list representative in the House of Representatives, denied the accusation.
Apart from Villanueva, another former House member whom Cunanan linked to the scam was Ruffy Biazon, a former Muntinlupa lawmaker who resigned last year as Customs chief at the height of the controversy.
Biazon has already been named respondent in the case, while Villanueva has yet to be formally charged.
Biazon, Muntinlupa representative from 2001 to 2010 and a party-mate of President Benigno Aquino III, was among the 34 respondents in the malversation, direct bribery and graft and corrupt practices complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman. He allegedly earned a kickback of P1.95 million from the scam.
Villanueva is also an Aquino ally.
CATHERINE S. VALENTE