MANILA - Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala on Friday denied any participation in the pork barrel scam, after a report claimed that he worked with Budget Secretary Florencio ''Butch'' Abad to pocket public funds.
In an interview on ANC, Alcala denied a Daily Tribune newspaper report that he and Abad were summoned to Malacañang to meet with President Benigno Aquino III because they were implicated in alleged pork barrel scam player Janet Lim Napoles' tell-all' testimony.
A copy of Napoles' sworn statement is now with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
The Tribune source claimed that De Lima had rushed to the Palace after being told by high-ranking officials that Napoles' statement, which supposedly reveals the names of all those behind the scam, has to be sanitized of Aquino allies.
Alcala said he was at the Palace that day to attend a meeting on the visit of US President Barack Obama. He added he and Aquino did not even talk about the pork barrel scam.
"Nandoon ako sa Malacañang dahil sa kasama po ako sa mga nag-meeting para sa pagdating ni President Obama. May mga agricultural concerns doon, kaya po ako nandoon,'' he said.
''Pangalawa po, kaya po ako pinatawag ng presidente right after nung meeting kay Obama, ay kami po ay nag-usap ng ilang mga agricultural concerns. Noong araw na 'yon, nagkaharap kami, hindi po niya ako tinatanong tungkol doon. Ni hindi po niya ako tinatanong tungkol doon. Kilala po ako ng pangulo ng bansa."
Alcala also said that to the best of his recollection, he has never met nor dealt with Napoles.
He admitted he is growing tired of all the allegations being thrown against him, and that these were distracting him from his work.
Lawyer Argee Guevarra of activist group Sanlakas earllier filed a plunder complaint before the Office of Ombudsman against Alcala and National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor) president and chief executive officer Honesto Baniqued.
Guevarra accused Alcala and Baniqued of plundering at least P1.07 billion from public coffers, and hinted that P11.4 billion could also have been pocketed by agriculture officials based on the Annual Audit Report of Nabcor by the Commission on Audit (COA).
Alcala is also a respondent in another plunder complaint by the leftist farmers' group, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. President Aquino and Secretary Abad were also included in the complaint.
Malacañang has dismissed the complaint as a publicity stunt. Aquino enjoys immunity from suit throughout his presidential term.