Malacañang has absolved President Benigno Aquino 3rd from any involvement in the pork barrel anomaly.
The Manila Times’ Rigoberto Tiglao earlier wrote that the “President is now suspect” for being a politician who has benefited from the alleged scheme of detained businesswoman Janet Napoles, to steal taxpayers’ money.
Tiglao’s column cited several reasons why the President knew Napoles and her scams. For instance, the controversial photos of the President with Napoles, and her family, which has gone viral.
Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte, however, said there was no evidence of any other association between President Aquino and Napoles.
”It’s a stretch to consider the President automatically suspect on a photo op, one that is unsupported by any evidence whatsoever,” Valte said, referring to the photograph of Aquino taken with Napoles, the alleged pork barrel scam mastermind.
Valte said the pictures were authentic, but said that “it’s no big deal.”
According to Valte, the photo was taken in Cebu City on November 30 last year during the National Thanksgiving Mass for the canonization of Pedro Calungsod.
”She had her photo taken with the President, as did a dozen other people who lined up to have their photo taken with him. I won’t be surprised because a lot of people ask for their photos to be taken with the President,” she said.
”It’s a normal thing to happen. It is not extraordinary,” she added Valte refused to comment further on Tiglao’s piece but said everyone was entitled to his or her opinion.
On Thursday, Malacañang released 24 photos of President Aquino with Napoles and other people.
Strategic Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang said the Palace released the pictures to show that they were “not hiding” anything.
”We are not hiding anything and I think if something comes out like that, the best way to address it is to tell the truth; and that’s exactly what we’re doing here,” he said
But Carandang denied that the President knew them personally, which Aquino himself already said.
”There were maybe a hundred, two hundred people there. There were at least a dozen people who had their picture taken with him,” he said.
”He [Aquino] still didn’t know them personally, Carandang added. “I’ve shown some of those photos and it’s really just a question of her going and asking for the picture. He didn’t even know who she was.”