BUDGET Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad on Wednesday rejected calls for him to quit his post out of delicadeza (good taste), saying his critics, including Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani, are only “confused” and “distracted” by the allegations against him.
“I had warned about people being confused and distracted by these unfounded allegations and accusations. The bishop thinks I am on both the Napoles and Luy lists. I am not on the Luy list,” Abad said in a text message to The Manila Times.
“And I have proven thru documents that the Napoles allegations are not true. So what delicadeza are we talking about here?” the Budget chief added.
Malacanang spokesman Edwin Lacierda also shielded Abad from the prelate’s tirade.
“He [Bacani] can choose to believe or not believe. The question is, ‘Where’s the evidence?’And the evidence pointed out by Napoles was that there was a Saro [special allotment release order]from Batanes Electric Cooperative. There was no Saro. So he’s entitled to his opinion, but he’s not entitled to his facts,” Lacierda told reporters also on Wednesday.
On Monday, Bacani urged Abad to step down even though there was no proof yet to establish his links to the pork barrel scam.
“Sa totoo lang, si Secretary Abad ay kinakailangan na mag-resign, kahit na pending ang investigation, ‘I will leave my office,’ ganun yun. I will suspend myself [Truth is, Secretary Abad should resign, even if investigation is pending, I will leave my office, he should tell himself, that’s it. I will suspend myself],” the bishop said.
“Sasabihin ko sa kanya magbitiw ka muna, ipakita mo na hindi ka talaga gahaman diyan sa pwesto mo tutal somebody can take your place [I will tell him to step down and he should show that he is not clinging to his post. Somebody else can take his place],” Bacani pointed out.
But Abad reasoned that if there is such a list that should be believed, definitely, he said, it is not the one provided by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
“The Luy files have copies of letters, Saros, NCAs [notice of cash allocations]and other documents. They are also corroborated by whistleblowers,” the Budget secretary added.
He was referring to transaction records kept by Benhur Luy, the principal witness in the P10-billion priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam.
Luy’s records are composed of more than 30,000 pages of transactions covering the years that Napoles dealt with lawmakers. The digital files have been submitted to the Justice department and the Senate.
Some entries in those files had been deleted, including one purportedly addressed to Abad. But Malacanang said the deletions mean nothing.
“When it comes to cases against anybody, we will go where the evidence is. And so far . . . Again, we’ve stated the claim of Napoles has been rebutted by Secretary Abad by the fact that there is no Saro as mentioned by Mrs. Napoles,” Lacierda pointed out.
“By the way, all the allegations in the 2007-2009 Special Audit Reports are supported by documentary evidence and what are those [pieces of]evidence? Saros . So you look at Saros. So Mrs. Napoles claimed she met Butch Abad, he presented a Saro from Batanes Electric Cooperative. Go to the DBM [Department of Budget and Management] and you can see whether it’s true;;. Don’t take my word for it. Documents should prove or disprove an allegation,” the Palace spokesman said.
Lacierda explained that while President Benigno Aquino 3rd is not beholden to Abad or any of his relatives in the government, the Abads are among Aquino’s most trusted aides.
“If you look at Secretary Butch Abad, he has long experience in governance. Look at Secretary Julia Abad, she has been the Chief of Staff of the President since the President was a senator. So you have competence, you have confidence . . . regardless of who the officials are. We need people who are competent. We need to have confidence [in]the people we work with. That’s a basic requirement in any relationship that you have,” he said.
Julia is a daughter of Abad.
Lacierda said it was “unfair” to single out the Budget chief.
“You need someone who is competent enough to work with you . . . You need someone [confident]to work with you. So I think that’s a fair qualification that one always looks [for]whenever one works with someone, [one always looks for]confidence and competence,” he explained.