"Megastar" Sharon Cuneta and Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan
MANILA -- "I will leave my husband!"
This was Sharon Cuneta's daring statement on Wednesday as she confidently denied that her husband, former Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, is also involved in the controversial pork barrel scam.
The 47-year-old actress-singer said she would leave her husband if he is proven to have benefited from the scam, following Sen. Jinggoy Estrada's mention of Panglinan's name in his privilege speech on Wednesday.
Estrada, who is facing plunder charges for his alleged involvement in the scam, questioned the partiality and objectivity of the Commission on Audit (COA), saying the agency has not highlighted irregularities in the disbursements of the funds of other government officials, including Panglinan.
"Bakit hindi nababanggit ang mga ito? Dahil ba sila ay inyong kaalyado? Pero hindi ko naman po sinasabi na sila ay nagkasala. Ito po ay base sa COA report na mayroon daw pong irregularities ang kanilang pinaglaanan na pondo," Estrada said.
While Estrada was giving his privilege speech, Cuneta took to Twitter to defend Pangilinan, saying they in fact have debts to pay, as she assured her husband's innocence.
"If anyone reading this can prove to me that my husband has stolen any [amount] from his PDAF in his 12 years as senator, I will give you P10 million in cash and I will leave my husband. That is how confident I am. Sorry, hindi kami magnanakaw," she said.
She added: "It is not as hard as people may think. Kung nakukulangan sila sa ilang papeles o anuman -- isa-isahin niyo ang pinagbigyan ni Kiko ng PDAF niya."
"Ask the baranggay captains [...] and kung sino-sino pa ang nabigyan at nang makita ng lahat na walang bogus na organisasyon o foundation o sinuman, anuman na napuntahan ang pera kundi mga tunay na [government] organizations, legitimate organizations," she said.
Bringing up her planned "semi-retirement" from showbiz, Cuneta said she has had to continue working "because my husband has only his law firm and his farm and his shares in some restaurants that our friends are experts at running to derive income from, and I have lots of utang to pay for."
"With all due respect to Kiko," Cuneta added, "kaya ako nakakapag-tweet na akin ang bahay na 'yan, na ito, na 'yon, ay 'di para magyabang kundi para masagot ang ilang malisyosong tanong, at nang malaman ng tao na sa hirap at dugo't pawis ko nanggaling -- hindi dahil himalang yumaman kami nung naging senador ang asawa ko."
Pangilinan and Cuneta were married in 1996 and have three children. The former lawmaker, who is now running a farm in Cavite, was elected to the Senate in 2001 and was re-elected for another six-year term in 2007.