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Palace defends Abad anew on ‘pork’ scam

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang vouched anew yesterday for the integrity of embattled Budget Secretary Florencio Abad amid calls for him to resign over allegations of involvement in the pork barrel scam.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda reiterated there is no evidence to support suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles’ claim that Abad also benefited from the release of a special allotment release order (SARO).

“Don’t take my word for it, but there’s no SARO. And you can check it with the DBM,” he told Palace reporters in a briefing, referring to the Department of Budget and Management. “The claim of Napoles has been rebutted by Secretary Abad by the fact that there is no SARO as mentioned by Mrs. Napoles.”

Bishop Teodoro Bacani said Abad should resign out of delicadeza, considering that his name was both mentioned by Napoles and whistle-blower Benhur Luy.

“He 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 from Batanes Electric Cooperative,” he said.

“There was no SARO. So he’s entitled to his opinion, but he’s not entitled to his facts,” he added.

President Aquino had also raised serious doubts on the credibility of Napoles, who is applying to become a state witness.

He said there have been three separate lists containing different names of senators and congressmen, which only makes Napoles’ affidavit doubtful.

Malacañang previously defended allegations of corruption and impropriety against Abad and his family, including his other 10 relatives in government.

“Their surnames should not be a basis for saying they have too much power. I think their performance in government should be a gauge as to whether they are an asset to the country and to the government,” Lacierda had said.

Abad’s daughter Julia is head of the Presidential Management Staff. His wife Henedina took over the congressional post he previously held in the lone district of Batanes, while their son Luis used to work as chief of staff of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima. Luis is now studying in the US.

Abad’s cousins are also in government – Anastacio Barsana (mayor of Ivana, Batanes), Judge Ramon Barona (of Basco Regional Trial Court) and bailiff Fernando Barona of the Ivana Metropolitan Trial Court.

ABAD

ANASTACIO BARSANA

BASCO REGIONAL TRIAL COURT

BATANES

BATANES ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE

BENHUR LUY

BISHOP TEODORO BACANI

BUDGET SECRETARY FLORENCIO ABAD

NAPOLES

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