MANILA - President Aquino reiterated on Tuesday that Cabinet members who have been implicated in the pork barrel scam by the expanded affidavit of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles are clean.
Aquino said he wants evidence of wrongdoing against secretaries Butch Abad (budget) and Proceso Alcala (agriculture) before he starts believing the allegations. He said he knows the two officials personally.
He pointed out that many allegations are being hurled against his administration, including the alleged "Tres Marias" group of bagmen operating in Malacañang. A Palace spokesman said the report by the Daily Tribune was incorrect.
The President said those accused in the scam could be spreading disinformation so that others will be dragged into the controversy.
"May nagsabi nga na hindi niya maipapagtanggol ang sarili niya kaya ang gagawin na lang niya pabahuin lahat at ganung paraan, hindi ba, parang medyo bumango na rin siyang konti at siguro ma-delay nga ang mga kaso laban sa kanya at baka iyong susunod raw sa atin ay mas madaling kausap or mapaki-usapan, may mga ganoong allegations," he said.
"So, wala tayong pakialam sa lahat na iyon. Ang habol natin, ang pangako natin sa taumbayan, may ebidensiya, sampahan ng kaso," he added.
The President said Abad increased transparency in government by introducing bottom-up or participatory budgeting.
He said the Budget ng Bayan website allows people to check on disbursements by the Department of Budget and Management.
He said Abad also stopped the practice of some people of using the General Appropriations Act to release funds even without a special allotment release order (SARO).
Other innovations introduced by Abad include a single Treasury account and cashless transactions by some government offices.
"Bakit ko ba sinasabi lahat ito? Bottom line: kung ikaw magnanakaw, gusto mong itago. E walang ginawa si Secretary Abad kung hindi ilantad ng ilantad iyong proseso 'nung paano magbu-budget, paano ginagastos. So, imbes na palakihin niya iyong pie na pwede niyang pagkunan, e tila pinahirapan pa niya kung ang ambisyon niya ay magnakaw," he said.
He also said he cannot see how Alcala could have direct involvement in the pork barrel scam.
PNOY DOUBTS NAPOLES
The President said he continues to doubt Napoles' credibility and said he is suspicious that Napoles is trying to muddle the prosecution of the pork barrel scam.
"May listahan kayong kinombine (combine) nyo kay Napoles at saka kay Luy, 25. Iyong sinumbit niya ho na listahan sa amin sa Senador, 14. Iyong sinubmit niyang pangalawang listahan, 11. Iyong 14 minus 3. Si Luy sabi niya, nakuha niya iyong impormasyon galing kay Napoles. So, alam mo noong a few years ago may nagsa...meron 'yung character sa ating showbiz na parating sinasabing, 'Ano ba naman kuya!' O dito siguro, 'Ano ba naman ate!' Alin ba talaga dito?"
"It is 25? Is it 14? Is it 11? Pero be that as it may ano, sinabi ko naman sa inyo from the start, hindi ba bukas tayo sa posibilidad na ang ginagawa lang niya ay guluhin iyong istorya habang dumadami ng dumadami, dumadami ng dumadami iyong iimbestigahan natin. Dulo kakaimbestiga, kakaimbestiga na-time's up na tayo. Hindi na nasampa iyong kaso baka iyong ang strategy."
Aquino said he does not understand how people became angry with Napoles but would now take her words as gospel truth.
He said it is in Napoles' best interests that the investigation in the pork barrel scam be muddled further.
"Dati parang kinamumuhian si Mrs. Napoles. Ngayon, 'pag nagsalita ka, parang totoong-totoo ang sinasabi. Paano kaya nangyari iyon? At saka hindi kaya mas nasa interes niya na palabuin iyong kwento, patagalin ang proseso at baka naman dumating ang panahon madaan sa limot. Malay ninyo, may nagsabi na rin sa kanya: 'Habang tumatagal ito, gumaganda sa iyo. Bumabawas iyong muhi ng tao sa iyo.'"
Aquino believes there are others seeking to muddle the investigations although he has no evidence to pin them down.
He also noted that when government officials are accused of wrongdoing, it is almost as good as calling them guilty.
"Where's the justice there?" he asked.
The President said he was also shown photos of alleged cheques issued by Mrs. Napoles to pork scam players. However, he noted that the photos did not show the backs of the cheques to prove that the transactions pushed through.
"Hindi ko alam kung na-transact ba 'yan o hindi. May mga voucher. Iyong voucher parang pwede mong bilhin sa bookstore," he said.
The pork barrel scam has so far affected as many as 120 present and former legislators in the alleged siphoning of priority development assistance funds into bogus projects implemented by Napoles non-government organizations.
Napoles is seeking to be made a state witness. So far, among senators, only opposition lawmakers Juan Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada have been indicted for the scam.