Speaker: House stands behind Gonzales-A A +A
Thursday, September 26, 2013
SPEAKER Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Thursday said that the House of Representatives stands behind Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Representative Neptali Gonzales II, whose name was dragged in the privilege speech of Senator Jinggoy Estrada.
"I remain fully confident of the integrity and the abilities of our Majority Leader. We stand behind him here and as I said, everybody should be given his time," Belmonte said in an ambush interview.
On Wednesday, Senator Estrada, one of the three senators facing plunder charges, cried "selective justice" over the reported abuse of priority development assistance funds (PDAF) or pork barrel.
The senator said several allies of President Benigno Aquino III were left out in the investigation as he questioned the PDAF use of several congressmen, including Gonzales.
Citing the special audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA), Estrada said Gonzales made P6.6 million fastfood purchases from 2007 to 2009. "Ano ito? Hamburger, Chickenjoy? Langhap na langhap ang sarap," he said.
Estrada also said that P275 million of Gonzales' PDAF went to questionable projects.
He asked why Gonzales, a member of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), was not questioned by COA. "Dahil ba miyembro ng Liberal Party? Nagtatanong lang po," the senator said.
Belmonte, also a member of the LP, refuted Estrada's statement that COA gave special treatment to Aquino's allies.
"I don't really believe that the COA has given special treatment to anybody. If you mention so many names, pano mo sasabihin na special treatment but at any rate, that whole report...assuming it is true, the matter has been officially referred to the appropriate authorities," he said.
Belmonte said Estrada, in his privilege speech, failed to defend himself from the plunder suit filed against him by the Department of Justice.
"He wasn't defending himself but actually including others...There was nothing new in his speech that was not already in all of the reports," Belmonte said.
Estrada, along with Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile, are facing plunder charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly pocketing their PDAF through the channeling of these funds to questionable non-government organizations put up by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
Belmonte said he is confident that the controversial pork barrel scam will not tarnish the credibility of the House of Representatives.
Several incumbent congressmen have also been mentioned in the COA report on the questionable use of PDAF from 2007 to 2009. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)