The Palace is not passing judgment yet on National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Arturo Juan who has been accused of extorting P15 million from a businessman.
Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte challenged rice trader Jojo Soliman to prove his allegations that Juan demanded P15 million from him in exchange for the dropping of charges against him and reopening of his padlocked warehouse. Soliman was accused of mixing animal feeds with imported rice.
Soliman, in his sworn statement submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) claimed that Juan and his assistant, lawyer Patricia Galang, called him up to ask P15 million. Juan reportedly told Soliman that P5 million of the money will go the Interior Secretary Mar Roxas while another P5 million will be given to President Assistant on Food Security Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan. The remaining P5 million will be Juan’s share.
The rice trader claimed that he deposited P10 million in two separate bank accounts, while P5 million was placed inside a paper bag and left under a table in a restaurant in Makati City.
Soliman claimed that he has deposit slips to prove that he did deposit the money.
But the Palace said such claims are not enough to prove Juan’s guilt.
“As for the bank documents, he [Soliman] should be able to prove that the account numbers where he made such deposits really belong to those people he is accusing of receiving payoffs. The deposit slips can’t be sufficient,” Valte, a lawyer, pointed out.
“You need to prove that the money went to the people you are accusing. The investigators will have their methods to verify these documents. We’ll wait for the results of the investigation,” she said.
“This [investigation]is a chance for former NFA Administrator Juan to refute the allegations against him and present his evidence as well,” Valte added.
Juan was appointed to his post only in June this year. He submitted a courtesy resignation days after Soliman made his allegations, but it was rejected by Pangilinan.
Pangilinan expressed belief that the allegations against Juan were unfounded but he vowed to cooperate in the investigation of the NBI.