Palace: No special treatment for PNoy buddies

by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 10 2011 05:27 PM | Updated as of Jun 11 2011 10:18 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang disputed Friday House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman’s statement that President Aquino has ignored the justice department's recommendation that Land Transportation Office chief Virginia Torres be placed under preventive suspension and that she be charged with an administrative case in connection with her involvement in the attempted takeover of the office of Stradcom, LTO’s IT provider.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the President is still going through the DOJ’s fact-finding report and recommendation and that there could still be an action to be taken “one way or the other.”
“We’re still going through it so we are still at that point. So we haven’t made any conclusions yet. We are just reviewing it right now. There will be an action one way or the other,” Lacierda said.
ABS-CBN News earlier reported that President Aquino was briefed Wednesday afternoon in Malacanang by Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III of his panel’s fact finding report and recommendations on Torres.

Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Jose Ping de Jesus was present at the briefing, as well as Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Ed de Mesa.
This happened two days after the President said that Torres had “in effect” served her penalty when she went on an extended leave and was set to return to work in the third week of June.
But Lacierda told reporters Friday that the Palace is still studying the report.
“Hindi pa kasi tapos yun e. Fact finding pa lang yun, gathering of facts. After the gathering of facts, technically may administrative investigation pa on that,” Lacierda said.
“They were going through the fact finding… because the recommendations were given to the President, it has to be sifted through, it has to be discussed and studied. It was just a one-hour meeting. So it was not enough for us. We needed more time to study that,” he said.
Lacierda disputed allegations that the President’s friends in power enjoy special treatment.
“I’m saying, let’s give everyone due process. It’s so easy to say that because you are a friend, you would be untouchable. That’s not true. The President is committed to good governance,” he said.
“People close to him are not beyond correction. Let’s disabuse ourselves of the fact that just because the person is close to the President, he is immune from any correction or from any disciplinary action.”
Lacierda said the President’s criteria in making appointments is trust, confidence and competence. He adds the opposition’s criticisms of the President are part of “the usual noise.”
“You know what, ang batikos kay Pangulong Aquino I think is far from the criticisms hailed against the former President and dahil wala silang mapunto against kay Pangulong Aquino, wala naman silang masasabing may bahid ng katiwalian si Pangulong Aquino, idadamay nila ‘yung iba’t ibang mga tao sa kanyang administrasyon. Biglang pumutok na naman itong mga issue na ‘to. You know, everything was silent, we were doing our job, and I guess the opposition has nothing better to do kasi recess na eh, so ‘o, teka, mag-ingay muna tayo’. So these are the usual noise, chattering.”