MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 3) - Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay on Tuesday accused the Aquino administration of hypocrisy for vilifying former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo while continuing her policies.
Speaking to ANC’s Headstart, Magsaysay criticized Malacañang for withholding her pork barrel since 2011 because of her frequent tirades against President Aquino.
"It's all hypocrisy. They bash the past administration for going against its political opponents by withholding the pork barrel but they are doing the same. They said they won't do a Gloria, that they will release the pork barrel to majority and minority. I am living proof that they haven't," she told Headstart host Karen Davila.
Palace officials earlier admitted they did not release priority development assistance funds (PDAF) for Zambales directly to Magsaysay because she is against the Aquino administration’s policies. Budget Secretary Butch Abad said the funds are funneled through the local government units or national agencies.
Magsaysay said Abad has yet to give her documents on how the pork barrel was used and who benefited from it.
“I am that bold enough to say it in public because it’s true. That’s probably why a lot of people get afraid of me. They love me or hate me because I tell the truth.”
In the interview, the congresswoman criticized some members of President Aquino’s Cabinet who were once staunch allies of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Magsaysay said she is surprised that she is being branded by some Cabinet men as pro-Gloria when they also served in the Arroyo Cabinet. Among them are Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman and President Adviser on the Peace Process Ging Deles.
“All those people who criticize me for being pro-Gloria are those even closer to the former president than me. They even served under her Cabinet. They benefited so much as far as pork barrel and projects are concerned,” she said.
Magsaysay said many of her critics are members of President Aquino’s Liberal Party, which supported Mrs. Arroyo until the “Hello, Garci” wiretapping scandal in 2005.
“Let’s be frank, the LP were my allies and Gloria’s allies in the past administration. They were part of the majority in Congress and if you are part of the majority in Congress, that means you agree with the policies and programs of the administration because if you don’t agree with it, then you have to be in the minority,” he said.
Magsaysay has had several run-ins with members of President Aquino’s Cabinet in the past. She once described President Aquino as "the most amateur, stubborn, laid back, lazy, immature, and least knowledgeable president we ever had."
She also described Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang as a "spoiled brat" during a budget hearing.
In the interview, the congresswoman lamented the proliferation of a culture of propaganda under the Aquino administration. She said many critics of President Aquino, including herself, are automatically labeled as pro-Arroyo when it is the job of the minority to be the government’s fiscalizer.
“In this administration, if you’re a critic they already brand you as pro-Gloria…When you are part of the minority of the House that means it’s your job to fiscalize the administration. You’re supposed to provide the check and balance. I didn’t imagine naman that this administration would be so onion-skinned,” she said.
She pointed out that she was never close to Mrs. Arroyo, noting that they were only professional allies. She also said she didn’t get a lot of projects under the Arroyo administration.
Magsaysay first joined the House of Representatives in 2004, the same year that Mrs. Arroyo got a 6-year mandate after defeating Fernando Poe Jr. for the presidency. The congresswoman said she joined Lakas-CMD of Mrs. Arroyo upon the invitation of Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.
While in Congress, Magsaysay quickly distinguished herself as a hard worker. She was named outstanding congressman for 6 consecutive years and is set to receive another award this July.
Magsaysay prides herself for keeping a good name, and for not being linked to any irregularity under the Arroyo administration. Even former president Joseph Estrada, a critic of Mrs. Arroyo, defended Magsaysay as a congresswoman whose track record in Congress is untainted by corruption.
Magsaysay is set to run for senator in 2013 under the United Nationalist Alliance ticket.
No to Customs bribes
In the interview, Magsaysay revealed that she turned down bribes after she exposed alleged anomalies at the Bureau of Customs. Her exposé later led to the sacking of Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez to be replaced by new Customs chief Ruffy Biazon.
“Many influential people talked to me to go slow on [Customs] Commissioner Angelito Alvarez then and they offered me a lot of money…if I wanted anybody, if I wanted projects. I don’t want to say the (offer). That is where you are going to see that Mitos Magsaysay will not back down for those things. I would rather see myself through,” she said.
She also said she has always been "pro-issue" and would praise both President Aquino and Mrs. Arroyo if she approves of their actions. She said she is all for President Aquino’s anti-corruption drive and program for good governance.
“He’s after good governance. So am I. That is why I have maintained a life of good governance in my district. Even the Commission on Audit (COA) will tell you that they wrote 231 congressmen for questionable projects, if they really received their projects. I am not one of those congressmen written by the COA,” she said.
Magsaysay praised Aquino for setting the tone of simplicity in government. “That is how government officials should be. We should be mababang loob in our ways. Hindi naman maganda yung flashy yung politico,” she said.