House leaders from the ruling Liberal Party (LP) have raised doubts on the supposed affidavit of Janet Napoles that tags Secretary Florencio Abad of the Department of Budget and Management as one of the architects of the P10 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
Reps. Niel Tupas, Jr. of. Iloilo, Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro, Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar and Edgar Erice of Caloocan City vouched for Abad a day after a supposed Napoles affidavit linked Abad to the PDAF mess among other administration Senators such as Franklin Drilon, Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, among others.
Such an affidavit was first disclosed by former Senator Panfilo Lacson, who was appointed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd as a rehabilitation czar to coordinate the rebuilding efforts in the Visayas provinces rocked by Super Typhoon Yolanda last November 2013. Lacson, however, didn’t drop names.
“I have known Secretary Abad for a long time as a very dedicated and honest public servant. As such, he should be able to defend himself against such allegation,” Tupas, a lawyer and the Chairman of the House Justice panel, said in a text message.
The PDAF, outlawed by the Supreme Court in November 2013 amid the PDAF scam expose, used to be the discretionary fund of the lawmakers for the perusal of their respective constituents.
“The list is just a list unless corroborated by hard evidence. Otherwise, it has no probative value. It cannot even prove that a project [funded by PDAF]was not implemented,” Umali, also a lawyer and the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy, added in a separate talk.
But for Evardone, linking Abad to the controversy is only an attempt to divert the people’s attention away from those who has been previously identified liable over the P10 billion PDAF scam.
The Office of the Ombudsman has already approved the filing of plunder charges against Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada over allegedly pocketing kickbacks from the P10 billion PDAF mess with PDAF releases turned over to fake entities ran by Napoles.
“Reports identifying Secretary Abad as the author of the pork barrel scam are designed to confuse the public and divert the real issue from the true perpetrators of the crime. The public should be forewarned against these machinations,” Evardone, Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, pointed out.
Those behind reports agains Secretary Abad, Evardone added, will look at every opportunity to bring the issue of pork barrel to the Palace just to gain political mileage.
Erice, for his part, underscored that it is too early to tell if the supposed list of Napoles’ clients is credible.
“Being included in the list doesn’t mean that it’s [what you are accused of]true. It will really depend on the evidence that will be presented. Discernment will come after all documents have been laid on the table,” Erice added in closing.
LLANESCA T. PANTI