MALACAñANG on Monday said it is ready to defend itself from any “burn the house down scenario” being cooked up by personalities involved in the pork barrel scandal, adding Cabinet officials who are being linked to the scam still deserve to be treated fairly.
“That goes into the theory that, you know, everybody is trying to burn the house down. The Palace stands [ready to]defend itself. We in the Palace have committed ourselves to daang matuwid [straight path],” said its spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
He was reacting to reports that a powerful clique within the administration was trying to influence the outcome of the pork scam probe to clear certain Cabinet officials and administration allies who are being implicated in the anomaly.
Citing sources within the ranks of pork barrel scam witnesses, The Manila Times on Monday reported that the clique appears bent on “using” Janet Lim-Napoles to their political advantage.
“Malacañang itself announced that it was waiting for the affidavit of Napoles. How come? There is strong suspicion that someone other than the President is manipulating everything,” a highly placed source privy to the case said.
According to him, the “clique” is being led by a powerful official who dreams of becoming president in 2016. The source said this official’s “tentacles” have reached the Department of Justice (DOJ).
But Lacierda said the story “is not true,” as he vouched for the integrity of his peers in the Cabinet. He also belied reports that three powerful women who are close to President Benigno Aquino 3rd are acting as “bagmen” for the Palace.
“It’s defintely incorrect. We have a saying in law, ‘falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.
False in one, false in all.’ So the fact that you have identified someone who’s no longer in government badly shows the quality of the source,” Lacierda, a lawyer, stressed.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. issued his own statement in defense of their embattled colleagues such as Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director General Joel Villanueva.
“One of the key tenets in our laws [from the Bill of Rights in the Constitution]is the right to be presumed innocent unless proven guilty, not the opposite situation which is to be presumed guilty unless proven innocent. If we apply the latter concept — presumed guilty unless proven innocent — don’t we risk finding ourselves without a Cabinet if we fire anybody or everybody who is criticized?” Coloma asked, quoting President Aquino.
The Palace official explained that the “bottom-line consideration” in the decision to retain or keep members of the Cabinet is simply the trust and confidence in them.
“If there is sufficient evidence, we will bring this to court, and this is what has happened when we submitted the information to the Ombudsman,” Coloma said.
He noted that it is their obligation to the people to ensure that when the government files a case, the evidence is strong so that the guilty will be punished.
“If we apply the opposite principle, filing weak cases based on speculation or unsupported by concrete proof, will give the guilty a perpetual ‘get-out-of-jail’ card as they can invoke protection from double jeopardy,” Coloma pointed out.