House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd of Mandaluyong admitted buying food from Jollibee but noted that the P6 million purchases were spread in three years.
Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada on Wednesday accused Gonzales of spending P6 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to buy Chickenjoy and burgers from the popular fastfood chain.
But the congressman said that the food purchases happened in three years and not in bulk.
“I didn’t use that amount in a day. The purchase was to feed people, obviously. It is usual that I purchase food for day care centers. I don’t have all the receipts right now, but I remember a time when I purchased Jollibee for 5,000 people in day care centers during my birthday,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales, however, refused to hit back at Estrada.
“I won’t use the [plenary]floor to get even. My responsibility is to get the budget passed on time. Let it be said that I am more of a gentleman. The mere fact that I am facing all of you is enough for me,” he said.
The lawmaker added that he is gathering documents to prove that he did not misuse his PDAF from 2007 to 2009.
Gonzales made the disclosure a day after Estrada cried selective justice because only he and two other senators were charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman while the others who were mentioned in the Commission on Audit (COA) report such as Gonzales was not charged.
Estrada was referring to the COA Special Audit Report on PDAF spending from 2007 to 2009 which showed that Estrada gave P396.25 million of his PDAF to three non government organizations (NGOs) owned by Janet Napoles. The same COA report showed that Gonzales released P248 million worth of his PDAF for various social services for his constituents but lacked supporting documents for liquidation.
“I requested COA in writing to give us a copy of documents that they used to arrive at such findings on liquidation. They acceded to our request just last week and we are evaluating the documents. There are still lots of receipts to photocopy. We will answer those findings,” Gonzales told reporters.
The same COA report showed that eight suppliers of Mandaluyong City were supposed to received P28.74 million of PDAF assistance from Gonzales but denied having undertaken 167 transactions with Gonzales’ office.
“Well, I would have to say I am kind of surprised on what was found by COA. I asked each of them [suppliers]. I don’t know what happened [for COA to arrive at such findings]. Why are these suppliers denying the transactions? This could also mean that they did not reply to the letter of confirmation sent by COA,” the lawmaker said.
“Let’s face it. There are businessmen who won’t admit to COA that they are the suppliers to avoid taxes. The COA report also included entities those who confirmed transactions but they don’t have business permit. I can’t change the COA report. We will have to find out what happened. To my understanding, there is only lack of documentation, especially on the part of the suppliers who did not reply to COA’s letter of confirmation,” Gonzales added.
Llanesca T. Panti