President Benigno Aquino 3rd will not lift a finger to spare his allies from the continuing investigation into the pork barrel scam.
In a press briefing, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda made it clear there will be no sacred cows in the investigation of the scandal.
“The fact that we already have an ally who have cases that [have]been filed against him, so that should douse any suspicion or fear that this government is set to protect its allies,” Lacierda told reporters.
Over 80 lawmakers, including allies of the President, were among those accused to have funneled their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to questionable non-government organizations through the National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor).
But, Lacierda said that as far as the Executive Branch is concerned, the probe will go where the evidence leads.
“I think that’s a situation regardless of whether you are close or not. The President maintains the same principle that where the evidence leads, the Department of Justice will prosecute, they will investigate,” he said.
“So we will leave it with the DOJ to assess and evaluate those cases that you referred to,” he added
Among the more than 80 lawmakers tagged by two Nabcor officials was Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) director general Joel Villanueva, who is also the party list Rep. of the Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) during the Arroyo administration.
The Palace official, however, said that Villanueva has already given his assurance that he will cooperate in the investigation of the pork barrel scam.
He said that the TESDA chief has already submitted his signatures to the National Bureau of Investigation’s Questioned Documents Division.
“He [Villanueva] particularly stated that he is willing to be investigated, and we certainly welcome the statement of Secretary Joel Villanueva,” he added
Meanwhile, Lacierda stressed that the COA report shows evidence from 2007 to 2009 or during the previous administration.
“You must also remember that this was a time where LP [Liberal Party] was not in power, people during the time belong to different parties… It is not the affiliation of the present time, but rather during the time when this audit was conducted, and this is precisely the audit of 2007 to 2009,” he said.
“So, again, these are events that happened prior to the administration, and so we certainly still maintain the belief that where the evidence leads us, then let’s go there,” he added. CATHERINE S. VALENTE