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Jinggoy's surrender to help in finding truth, Palace says

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Monday said the issuance of an arrest warrant against Senator Jinggoy Estrada is “a step forward in finding the truth” even as it claimed that there is no systematic effort to pin down members of the opposition.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda reiterated that the Aquino administration is “color blind” with regard to any investigation on the pork barrel scam.

“The issuance of this 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,” Lacierda said in a press briefing.

“The fundamental position of the President and of this administration is that we have asked all public officials to be accountable and one way of doing that is by way of finding where the evidence is and where that evidence takes us,” he added.

Lacierda also belied notions that the administration has cleared its allies who were implicated in the multi-billion peso fund scam.

He noted that a case has been filed against former Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, a member of the Liberal Party who has been accused of misusing his pork barrel funds.

“There is no systematic plan,” Lacierda said. 

“What we have, however, is a plan to bring to court those who have been found to have misused their PDAF (priority development assistance fund) and that would involve and affect anyone who misused their funds whether you are friend or foe,” he added.

Three of Aquino’s cabinet members have been implicated in the pork scam, one of the largest corruption scandals that hit the government in recent years.

Technical Education and Skills Development Authority chief and former Citizens' Battle Against Corruption party-list representative Joel Villanueva was identified by pork scam witness Dennis Cunanan as among the lawmakers who channeled their pork funds to non-government organizations controlled by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

The National Bureau of Investigation, however, said there were forgeries in the alleged documents implicating Villanueva in the scam.

Another cabinet member dragged in the scam is Budget Secretary and former Batanes representative Florencio Abad, who Napoles claimed, had taught her that non-government organizations are needed to transact with state agencies.

The budget chief was also accused of approving a P10-million project involving the Batanes Electric Cooperative.

Abad has described Napoles’ claims as “ridiculous”, saying that he has never dealt with Napoles.

Agriculture Secetary and former Quezon Rep. Proceso Alcala was also accused of dealing with the bogus groups formed by Napoles.

Alcala has denied the allegations and has challenged his accusers to present evidence that he benefited from the fund scam.

Aquino previously said he won’t fire his cabinet members who were dragged in the scandal unless there is enough evidence linking them to the controversy.

He added that the inclusion of some officials in the list of pork scam beneficiaries could be part of a plan to muddle the issue. – with reports from Venice Amoroso

 

AGRICULTURE SECETARY

AQUINO

BATANES ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE

BATTLE AGAINST CORRUPTION

BUDGET SECRETARY

DENNIS CUNANAN

EDWIN LACIERDA

LACIERDA

NAPOLES

SCAM

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