BUDGET Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad on Tuesday claimed that people who are out to destroy the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd are the same ones who peddle lies about a supposed list prepared by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
In a statement released to media, Abad on Tuesday vehemently denied having any transactions with Napoles or any of her fake non-government organizations (NGOs) “in any way throughout my career in public service.”
“I find it amusing, if not outright revolting, that I am once again in the crosshairs of those who want the Aquino administration to fall,” he said.
Abad added that he never dipped his hands into government funds and urged the public “not to immediately believe these allegations, but to weigh the only thing that matters in the end: the evidence.”
“All projects I sponsored under the Priority Development Assistance Fund [PDAF] when I was a legislator are above board—none have been coursed through any fake NGO. Unlike other personalities dragged into the PDAF scam of 2007-2009, who have been implicated by evidence and testimony by whistleblowers, nothing credible has been brought against me—but rather, unfounded allegations and malicious name-calling,” he said.
Abad also urged the Department of Justice and the Ombudsman to continue their investigation “and take appropriate action on behalf of the people.”
Former Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson named Abad and four members of the Senate as among those on the list of pork barrel beneficiaries handed to him by Napoles’ husband, Jaime or Jimmy, as he was called in previous reports.
But Lacson, the Presidential Adviser on Rehabilitation and Recovery, said he will no longer discuss the Napoles list because he wants to focus on reconstruction of areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda.
Muddling the issue
Political analyst and University of the Philippines Professor Prospero de Vera also on Tuesday said “fake” versions of the Napoles list may have been circulated to muddle the issue as Aquino himself suspected.
To address this, de Vera also urged all those involved in the P10-billion PDAF scam based on the various lists to disclose their pork barrel transactions.
“Public interest requires that all lists be made public and for all public officials involved to make public all their PDAF records so that those who have Napoles ties can really be identified,” he explained.
“There are clearly fake lists but non-disclosure will not clarify the issue. This will also require very responsible media reporting so that those circulating fake lists will not succeed in muddling the issue,” de Vera said.
Abad, meanwhile, pointed out that everything will be speculative “until the public sees the true affidavit of Janet Lim-Napoles, and until hard evidence supports the statements in this affidavit.”
Despite the inclusion of Abad’s name in the list, the Budget chief still enjoys the trust of the President, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said also on Tuesday.
“A mere allegation concerning actions taken in a previous position does not affect the presumption of regularity in connection with the performance of current duties,” Coloma noted.
He, however, said if evidence will show that people close to Aquino were actually involved in the scam, they will have to face the law.
“No discrimination or favoritism. Only concrete evidence will be the basis,” Coloma added.