PNoy willing to drop allies in Napoles' list

By Delon Porcalla, The Philippine Star

Posted at Apr 28 2014 08:34 AM | Updated as of Apr 28 2014 04:34 PM

MANILA - President Aquino will not hesitate to sever ties with his political allies included in the supposed list of suspected pork barrel fund scam operator Janet Lim-Napoles.

"The instructions of the President are clear, follow what the evidence says," Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said when asked if they’re willing to let go of allies with incriminating evidence.

At the same time, Coloma expressed confidence about Aquino’s personal relations with Budget Secretary Florencio Abad who was dragged into the scam, along with Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.

Coloma said President Aquino is staying the course of reform even as he downplayed speculations that many administration allies may have been involved in the scam.

Abad categorically denied reports last week that he was Napoles’ mentor, and that he and Alcala were among those involved in the fund anomaly.

Abad reportedly released the funds while Alcala had them implemented at the grassroots level.

Coloma said Malacañang is open to the possibility that Napoles may implicate administration allies.

“As I said, our focus here is the quest for truth and the President has time and again said that the evidence itself must provide the direction,” Coloma declared.

Coloma issued the statement in the wake of unconfirmed reports that Napoles tagged at least 12 more senators - on top of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. who have been indicted for plunder.

Napoles bared the list in a tell-all affidavit she submitted to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima last week.

By the sheer number alone, which virtually involved half of the 24-member Senate, some from the administration would be named in the list.

Coloma, however, believed the involvement of half the number of members of the Senate will not get in the way of priority legislation.

“We are one with those who want that administration bills be accorded priority legislation,” Coloma said.

A senior administration lawmaker warned priority measures emanating from the House of Representatives might get stalled in the Senate if several senators were involved in the pork barrel scam.

Albay Rep. Al Francis Bichara said one urgent legislative measure that could sustain serious collateral damage from the disclosures of Napoles on the alleged involvement of some senators in the scam is the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Coloma said the draft bill of the Bangsamoro Basic Law has just been submitted by the 15-man Bangsamoro Transition Council to President Aquino.

This bill, which Aquino is expected to certify as urgent, is among those named as priority measure.

The Bangsamoro draft bill and the proposed 2015 national budget are among the topics that Aquino intends to take up when he delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address before a joint session of Congress on July 28.

Congressmen led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. earlier vowed to pass the proposed law before the end of this year to allow a plebiscite in 2015.