MALACAÑANG on Monday gave assurances that allies of President Benigno Aquino 3rd will not be spared from investigation and prosecution if there is evidence that they were also involved in the pork barrel scam.
Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda cited the case of former Customs Commissioner Rufino Rozzano Biazon, who was charged along with more than 30 others in connection with alleged misuse of priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
Lacierda vented his frustration over reports that only those identified with the opposition are being “persecuted” while administration allies are defended by the President.
“You were deaf to the fact that we have filed a case against an ally of President Aquino.
You only complain about what you perceive as the prosecution of those identified with the opposition,” Laciarda told reporters in a news briefing.
Biazon resigned after he was dragged into the pork barrel scam last year.
Lacierda noted that the public almost failed to notice the case of Biazon, a partymate of Aquino.
“We filed a case against an ally of the President. What is the message that we are sending with the fact that we have already filed a case against an ally of the President? Shouldn’t that be as clear, as fundamental, that we are color blind with respect to any investigation that involves anyone [implicated]in the PDAF scam?” he asked.
On Monday’s detention of Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, an accused in the PDAF scam, Lacierda said the issuance of the warrant “is a step forward in finding out the truth, which is fundamental in strengthening the trust of our people in our institutions and processes.”
“We wish to reiterate what we have said, As the Sandiganbayan works to fulfill its mandate, we ask the Filipino people to remain vigilant throughout this process, bearing in mind that the outcome should clearly reflect the profound reality, that just as every Filipino is accorded constitutional rights, these rights are to be protected in a manner that is just and in the service of the truth,” he added.
Last Friday, Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. surrendered after the anti-graft court ordered his arrest. Estrada, Revilla and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile belong to the political opposition.
“It’s not true that we are only focusing on the people who appeared to be against this administration, that is clearly not true. With respect to the other investigations, PDAF investigations, let me also remind the public that we have investigations that are ongoing with the DOJ [Department of Justice] and this would refer specifically to the [Janet Lim] Napoles NGOs [non government organizations]. With respect to other non-Napoles NGOs, and which will also include other legislators and which are all found, by the way, incidentally in the COA [Commission on Audit] Special Audit Report on 2007-2009. These are being looked into by the IAAGCC [Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council],” Lacierda said.
On the supposed involvement of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala in the “pork” scam, he explained that there is a vetting process and thorough investigation being conducted by the DOJ.
“Now, as in all affidavits, they are being evaluated by the Department of Justice. We are following a process. So from the DOJ, the affidavits of whoever you are, are filed and are being evaluated by the DOJ. [The affidavits will go to the] Ombudsman. So, if all that evidence, [what we say]time and again, we will go where the evidence leads us,” Lacierda said.
He belied claims of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada that there seems to be a “systematic plan” concocted by the Aquino administration to pin down personalities who are likely to run in the 2016 elections.
“We can also assure Mayor [Joseph] Estrada that there is no systematic plan. What we have, however, is a plan to bring to court those who have been found to have misused their PDAF, and that would involve and affect anyone who have misused their funds whether you are friend or foe,” the Palace official said.