We don't want an enemy in Malacanang: Rivera
MANILA - Former Congressman and now Budget Secretary Butch Abad on Wednesday denied teaching Janet Lim Napoles how to use non-government organizations to get money from government, which eventually led to the multibillion-peso pork scam.
This, amid the Napoles' camp's insistence that they gave P4 million to Abad to finance an electrification project in Batanes in the year 2000.
Speaking to radio DZMM, Abad flatly denied having transactions with Mrs. Napoles or even teaching the businesswoman how to use cooperatives as conduits of lawmakers' priority development assistance funds (PDAF).
He pointed out that it was improbable for Mrs. Napoles to give him P4 million when they hardly knew each other.
"Sa karaniwang karanasan ng isang tao, pag una mo pa lang nakilala, you will not give that person 2 million without any papers. Pauutangin mo at dadagdagan mo ng 2 million. In this context, this is not philanthropy. Gulangan ito e. Hindi pwedeng palabas, dapat pakabig," he told DZMM.
"Masakit naman sa akin na tawagin akong pork king. Walang kaano-ano," he added.
However, Napoles' lawyer Bruce Rivera said Napoles had a series of meetings with Abad, which eventually led to her giving money to the then congressman. He said it was former agriculture official Manuel Jarmin who introduced Napoles to Abad.
In her original affidavit submitted to the Department of Justice, Napoles said she met with Abad at a Japanese restaurant in EDSA Shangri-la Plaza hotel where Abad showed her a special allotment release order (SARO) for a P10 million project. She said she gave Abad P2 million in cash and then another P2 million after Abad showed her a notice of cash allocation (NCA).
Napoles claimed that Abad used the Batanes Electric Cooperative to implement the project. She said Abad later returned the P4 million with additional P2 million.
"Parang ang nangyari si Mrs. Napoles parang naging financier dun sa SARO na yan. Initially, kasi hiniraman muna siya ng pera tapos may tubo siya ng P2 million kaya siya na-engganyo. Ang bilis pala at ang laki ng tubo," Rivera said in a separate radio DZMM interview.
Abad, however, said the Napoles transactions could not have happened since the alleged P10 million electrification project does not exist. He said no such project exists in the records of the Department of Budget and Management, National Electrification Administration (NEA) and Batanes Electric Cooperative.
"Yung tatlong sources of information about this P10 million project sinabi wala. Lahat ng kwentong itong nagkita kami sa Shangri-la, nagkita kami sa Cravings at ang ahente si Mr. Jarmin lahat yan ay babagsak. Wala e," he said.
For his part, Rivera said Napoles has other records that will show that the transactions took place. He said Mrs. Napoles will show the records in due time.
The lawyer also denied that Mrs. Napoles is trying to drag down different officials into the scam to absolve herself from guilt.
"We are not doing this to spite Mr. Abad because we know he is in power and the last thing we want is to have an enemy in Malacañang. We are just trying to show this is how it started," he said in a separate interview with ABS-CBNnews.com.
Abad believes that the mudslinging is part of Napoles' strategy to get herself off the hook.
"She wants to show the world that she is also a victim, that she is not the mastermind, that she is not the most guilty...I think in her own mind, in her own desperate way, inaasahan pa rin niya na mabigyan siya ng pagkakataon na she deserves to be taken as a state witness and given some form of concession and given immunity. What better way to do it but say 'Ako ang ginamit?'"
The budget chief said if a case is filed against him, he will need to file a formal affidavit to explain that there is no truth to the allegation that he "tutored" Napoles on hot to steal pork barrel funds.
He said he has no problem facing an investigation if asked.
"This is a major distraction but we will still answer it with all the possible evidences and documents that I can put together. These allegations are really blatantly false," he said.
He also admitted that not all the issues reach the President because he is busy on other, more important things.
"Hanggat maaari nga kasi madalas tinatanong kami, kinakausap niyo si Pangulo. Itong mga ito lalong lalo na walang pinagbabatayang issue, hanggat maaari hindi na namin pinaparating sa Pangulo kasi napakarami talagang dapat asikasuhin, pag-isipan at pagpasyahan ang Pangulo na mas mahalaga kaysa dito sa mga itong bagay na ito. Bagamat hindi natin sinasabi na maliit na bagay ito dahil napakalaki..." he said.