MANILA (UPDATE) - Former justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said Tuesday he was ready to testify in the Senate to deny his involvement in the alleged "pastillas" bribery scheme at Manila's airport.
Columnist and special envoy to China Ramon Tulfo alleged that a cut of the bribes were delivered via helicopter to Aguirre in Mulanay, Quezon, which the latter denied.
"Wala pong katotohanan 'yan. Kahit katiting na ebidensiya maglabas siya," Aguirre told radio DZMM.
"Ako mismo susulat sa Senado kung pwede imbitahan ako para mapabulaanan ko ang kaniyang mga akusasyon at masabi ko sa mukha ng Tulfong 'yan na ikaw ay isang pathological liar."
(I will write the Senate myself to invite me to deny his accusations and tell Tulfo to his face that he's a pathological liar.)
Aguirre said the accusations against him were politically motivated as he is the president of ruling party PDP-Laban in Quezon.
"Napakarami kong mga kalaban d'yan sa politika kasama na mayor ng Mulanay, kaibigan ni Tulfo," he said.
(I have a lot of political enemies there, including the mayor of Mulanay, who's a friend of Tulfo.
"'Yan ang tagasupply ng kasinungalingan niya kay Tulfo. Ang ginagawa naman ng mayor ng Mulanay, kung ano 'yung sinasabi ni Tulfo 'yan ang pinapublish niya. Mediaman kasi itong mayor ng Mulanay dati."
(He is the supplier of Tulfo's lies. He publishes whatever Tulfo says. The mayor of Mulanay was a former media man.)
Aguirre also tagged former Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, sister of Tulfo, as among those who pushed for the issuance of visas on arrival to Chinese tourists.
"Wala pong ginawa 'yan during our Cabinet meetings kundi kausapin ako kasi daw para naman gumanda ganda 'yung performance ng kaniyang Department of Tourism. Hindi lang DOT, marami rin pong agencies of government," he said.
(Teo did nothing at Cabinet meetings but talk to me [about signing the circular order] because she wanted to boost the performance of her Department of Tourism. It's not just the DOT, other government agencies wanted me to sign it as well.)
In a statement sent later Tuesday, Teo denied Aguirre's allegations, adding she only talked to the former justice secretary once, when she asked for the latter's appropriate action on documents on visa upon arrival.
"That's not true. I only talked to him once when I asked for the papers submitted to his office (regarding) documents on visa upon arrival for his review and appropriate action!" she said.
Teo also said the performance of the DOT during her time as secretary was already within target even without the visa upon arrival policy.
The visa upon arrival program has been offered to Chinese nationals since 2017, in an effort to lure more tourists and investors from China.
It was first implemented during the time of Aguirre, and was initiated by the tourism department.
Teo resigned from her post as tourism secretary in May 2018, after she came under fire when the Commission on Audit revealed the placement of P60 million in tourism ads to Kilos Pronto, a blocktimer show on PTV-4, despite lack of a memorandum of agreement or contract.
Kilos Pronto is produced and hosted by Teo's brothers, Ben and Erwin Tulfo.
Aguirre earlier accused Tulfo of defamation for claiming he was protecting human traffickers during his stint as justice secretary.