Palace to protesters: We're on same side-A A +A
Monday, August 26, 2013
MALACANANG is on the same side of those thousands of Filipinos who joined in the protest actions in Luneta Park in Manila and other key cities in the country on Monday, a Palace official said Monday.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda reiterated that the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel was already abolished and that there will be a new mechanism wherein the public could help in monitoring the projects to be implemented by the government.
So he said, "whether a million or 60,000 only (joined in the rally), the message is clear: we are on the same side. Let's fight corruption."
The police have estimated that in Luneta alone, some 70,000 people joined in the "Million People March." A fewer number of people also participated in the rallies in other cities in the country.
They called for the abolition of the pork barrel after reports that some P10-billion PDAF allegedly went to fake non-government organizations reportedly put up by Janet Lim-Napoles. The lawmakers who allegedly earmarked their pork barrel on the bogus NGOs reportedly benefited from the anomaly. But all the legislators dragged into the issue denied pocketing any single centavo from their PDAF.
"Many doubted that (PDAF) was not abolished. It's been abolished...we will not see PDAF in 2014 (budget)," Lacierda said in a press briefing, adding that the fund will be found in the projects of respective departments.
But under the new mechanism that the government is eyeing, the budget supposedly for PDAF would be spent on projects to be identified by the legislators.
Lacierda urged those who participated in the demonstrations as well as the concerned citizens to help in monitoring how the government funds are being used.
"This administration has elevated the level of anti-corruption, the expectation of the people, because the President has rehabilitated the damaged institutions," he said.
"And so, it bounds concrete opportunity for the people, for the public: To join us and help monitor these projects," the official stressed.
He also assured that whatever mechanism will be put in place, it will be "full proof" from any possible corruption.
Meanwhile, Lacierda also said that the investigation being conducted by the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC) will cover all those who were allegedly involved in the pork barrel fund scam, including a consultant of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., who reportedly had connection with Napoles.
President Benigno Aquino III reportedly ordered Ochoa to fire Brian Raymund Yamsuan, who was then an assistant secretary for public affairs in the Department of Interior and Local Government and spokesman of then Secretary Ronaldo Puno during the previous administration.
"(T)hat person has been terminated. I didn’t even know he was a consultant for Secretary Ochoa. So the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The President, the highest official of the land, has already spoken. He has formed IAAGCC. He has tasked IAAGCC to investigate," he said.
The IAAGCC is composed of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Commission on Audit Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan. (SDR/Sunnex)