MANILA - Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad and Senate President Franklin Drilon on Wednesday denied bribing legislators to push the political agenda of Malacanang.
Abad said there is no truth to the allegation of Senator Jinggoy Estrada that P50 million were each given to the senators who voted to oust Chief Justice Renato Corona in May 2012.
“That is absolutely not true. It’s also not true we peddled pork funds for the passage of the Reproductive Health and Sin Tax laws,” he told radio dzMM.
Drilon, who was the alleged source of the confidential letter on the P50 million additional allocation per senator, said: “I have yet to see that letter mentioned by Senator Estrada. But if the insinuation is that the Department of Budget and Management and I gave out additional PDAF funds as incentives to those who voted to convict then Chief Justice Renato Corona, that is not true.”
Drilon was then head of the Senate Finance Committee.
Both allies of President Benigno Aquino III said they were baffled over Estrada’s contradictory statements. Estrada insinuated it was a bribe during his privilege speech but denied it later when asked by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.
“In fact, after his privilege speech, Senator Estrada told me at the Senator's lounge that he did not mean to say that the additional PDAF was a ‘bribe’. Estrada said that he was standing by his decision to convict Corona and he was not influenced by any supposed incentive,” Drilon said.
He insists all the senators voted “according to their conscience and their impartial evaluation of the evidence presented during the Coronal trial.”
Singling out the opposition
Abad also denied the government has been singling out opposition members.
He said the special audit done by the Commission on Audit was started by Chairman Reynaldo Villar in 2010. Grace Pulido Tan took over the following year.
He also noted the allegations against Estrada have been bolstered by statements of witnesses, including pork scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.
Abad also took offense at the insinuations of Estrada that only P2 million of his wife’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) has been audited.
He said Batanes Rep. Heredina Abad got a total of P9 million PDAF, starting in 2004. But the years after, she did not receive any PDAF because then Education Secetary Abad had a falling out with then former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,
Secretary Abad was part of the so-called Hyatt 10, Cabinet secretaries and officials who in 2005 urged Arroyo to step down from office following allegations of election fraud.
“She [Dina] had zero PDAF, including then Senators Benigno Aquino III and Mar Roxas. That’s because they were in the opposition,” Abad said.