IF reports were true that detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles dipped into Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds, then it would mean that Napoles’ claim that Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad was her “mentor” may have some basis, according to former senator Joker Arroyo.
In a radio interview aired over dzBB, Arroyo on Sunday said such conclusion draws strength from recent reports in which pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy said Napoles was also a recipient of DAP funds.
The reports said the businesswoman was able to pocket some of the funds that were allegedly allocated later to at least five senators, including Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., who are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame for plunder and graft charges.
“The question is, is that fair to Butch Abad all because Luy said so?” Arroyo said.
Napoles, in her affidavit submitted weeks ago to the Department of Justice (DOJ), tagged Abad as her mentor or the one who taught her how she can use non-government organizations in maximizing her earnings on her transactions involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of lawmakers.
According to Luy’s files, Napoles was able to use the DAP funds in her dealings with the senators.
The DAP, which was recently declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC), was created by the Budget secretary.
Arroyo said he was convinced that the acceleration program has destroyed the government’s mantra of daang matuwid (straight path) because of the failure of the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd to clearly explain where the program funds went.
“If you can’t explain where the funds went, how can you claim, now, honesty and integrity?” he asked.
Arroyo said Malacanang should now explain where the funds went and stop avoiding the issue by saying the funds were used in government projects that benefited the people.
He noted that the administration cannot provide a list of projects that were funded through DAP.
Malacanang has not come up with plans on how to respond to the unanimous court ruling that declared the DAP as unconstitutional, according to Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.
Also in an interview over state-run Radyo ng Bayan, Coloma on Sunday said Palace lawyers are still sizing up options on whether they should file a motion for reconsideration of the High Court’s decision.
“The options are still being studied by the government. There is enough time to move and act accordingly on various legal options,” he added.
It has been nearly a week since the SC handed down its decision on four specific actions in implementation of the controversial program that it found to have violated the Constitution.
Malacanang has since then been at the receiving end of criticisms amid calls by some sectors for the resignation of Abad and other DAP implementors.
Palace spokesmen have been passionately shielding the President and the Budget chief from allegations of wrongdoing in the aftermath of the SC ruling.
Coloma last week declared that Aquino or Malacanang does not need to issue an apology because neither “did nothing wrong.”
In the same radio interview, he gave assurances that they will face whatever legal setbacks that the death of DAP would entail, including cases that may arise after an audit to be conducted by state auditors.
“We ensure that in the face of all government moves, we abide by the law. If there would be violations to be discovered after the regular auditing of the Commission on Audit and other investigations, we will still abide by what the law dictates,” Coloma said.
On reported plans by some groups to file an impeachment case against the President in Congress, he noted that is within the mandate of any member of the House of Representatives to do so.
“We heard all statements by [congressmen]. What we are saying is that we recognize the right of the members of the chamber to file a petition or motion about impeachment. It is allowed by law. We respect their rights,” Coloma said.
JOEL M. SY EGCO