Arroyo camp denies misuse of Malampaya funds-A A +A
Thursday, October 3, 2013
THE legal spokesperson and chief of staff of former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said the multi-billion peso proceeds from the Malampaya gas project in Palawan was in accordance with a Martial Law-era decree which grants the president wide discretion over the use of Malampaya funds.
In a brief statement, lawyer Raul Lambino said, "As far as the former President is concerned, the P20 billion plus Malampaya funds were authorized pursuant to the policies and purposes as mandated by the provisions of Presidential Decree 910."
To recall, the Supreme Court (SC) earlier issued a stay order on Section 8 of Presidential Decree 910 which gives the President wide discretion on how to use the Malampaya funds. (See related story here.)
In a television interview, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla earlier said that the Commission on Audit (COA) is investigating where more than P20 billion of the funds were spent during the Arroyo administration.
Arroyo, along with 20 others, were charged with plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman Thursday for the alleged misuse of P900 million in royalties from the Malampaya gas fund.
The P900 million was supposed to be allocated to farmer-beneficiaries who were affected by cyclones "Ondoy" and "Pepeng" back in 2009. The funds, however, went to bogus non-government organizations set up by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, also the alleged mastermind of another controversial scam involving the priority development assistance funds (PDAF) or pork barrel of congressmen and senators.
Former Budget Secretary and now Camarines Sur Representative Rolando Andaya Jr., one of Arroyo's co-accused, lamented "file now, investigate later" done by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
"I wasn’t allowed to confront my accusers or respond to the charges against me. I have volunteered myself to any investigation. But not even a text was sent to me as an invitation. I was open for a grilling... I’m begging my accusers to invite me in their quest for truth. Andito lang po ako sa sidewalk ng daang matuwid," Andaya said referring to the campaign slogan of the Aquino administration.
As former chief of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Andaya said he presumed that all funding requirements are "above board."
"Not every request for fund release should be treated with criminal suspicion. In this case, who would have thought that funds for typhoon victims will find its way into the pockets or bathtubs of others. My job description then was to release money for national funding requirements – a job that did not come with an early warning device that would alert me about a possible hijacking or pilfering when the funds are on its way to the beneficiaries," he said.
Andaya noted that his name was never uttered by the whistleblowers nor mentioned in their affidavits.
"The whistleblowers said they have never seen me or talked to me. Napoles doesn’t know me and not even a paparazzi’s photograph could dispute this. If the so-called masterminds are the ones saying that I have no direct involvement in the plunder of Malampaya funds, why I am now being dragged into this?" he said. (Sunnex)