Budget Secretary Butch Abad
Abad still enjoys PNoy's trust - Palace
MANILA - Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad on Tuesday denied having dealt with alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles after he was named by former Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson as one of the government officials allegedly included in the businesswoman's list.
"I have never dealt with Janet Lim Napoles or any of her fake NGOs in any way throughout my career in public service: either as representative of Batanes, as Budget and Management Secretary, or as an official of any other public office that has been entrusted to me," Abad said in a statement.
He said he has spent his life in government and in civil society "working to improve the lives of ordinary Filipinos by pushing for reforms in public governance."
Abad said when he was still a legislator, all projects he sponsored under his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) were "above board" and none was coursed through any bogus NGO.
He said he finds it "amusing" that he is implicated in the anomaly despite the lack of evidence against him.
Everything at this point is just mere speculation, "if not total fabrication," he said.
"Unlike other personalities dragged into the PDAF Scam of 2007-2009, who have been implicated by evidence and testimony by whistleblowers, nothing credible has been brought against me - but rather, unfounded allegations and malicious name-calling."
"I find it amusing, if not outright revolting, that I am once again in the crosshairs of those who want the Aquino Administration to fall. Matagal ko nang tanggap na idadawit ako kung saan-saan gawa ng aming trabaho sa DBM bilang tagapangalaga ng kaban ng bayan at tagasulong ng reporma sa pamahalaan-lalo na't pinaiigting ngayon ng Administrasyong Aquino ang Daang Matuwid. Habang lumalapit ang 2016, tiyak na marami pang lalabas na absurdong alegasyon," he said.
The DBM secretary urged the public not to believe the allegations until they see the affidavit of Napoles and hard evidence support it.
"I ask the public not to immediately believe these allegations, but to weigh the only thing that matters in the end: the evidence. I urge the Department of Justice and the Ombudsman to continue their investigation, follow the evidence wherever it may lead them, and take appropriate action on behalf of the people," Abad said.
Malacañang, meanwhile, said Abad continues to enjoy President Benigno Aquino III's trust despite being tagged in the pork scam.
"Secretary Abad continues to enjoy the President's trust and confidence. A mere allegation concerning actions taken in a previous position does not affect the presumption of regularity in connection with the performance of current duties," Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said.
The other 4 government officials named by Lacson as included in Napoles' list were Senators Francis "Chiz" Escudero, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Alan Peter Cayetano, and Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan. -- With a report from Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News