MANILA — Malacanang maintained on Monday that the government will punish those who are guilty based on concrete evidence about their involvement in the alleged Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. reiterated President Benigno S. Aquino III’s earlier statement noting that it is wrong to immediately remove Cabinet secretaries whose names are allegedly implicated in the pork barrel controversy.
“What is most important is: is there concrete evidence?,” he stressed.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director Joel Villanueva have been included in the list of those who allegedly benefitted from the P10-billion pork barrel misuse.
Coloma said that President Aquino also ensured that when the government files a case, the evidence is strong so that the guilty will be punished.
He noted that as clearly demonstrated in actions already taken by the government, “if there is sufficient evidence, we will bring this to court, and this is what has happened when we submitted the information to the Ombudsman.”
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said they are still waiting for the extended affidavit that will be submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) so that the alleged involvement of Secretary Abad in the controversy will be determined.
“We will ask DOJ if such an affidavit exists or what actions they have taken,” he said.
Meanwhile, Undersecretary Odette Ong vehemently denied media reports that she was also involved in the pork barrel scam.
“It was insinuated that I am involved in unlawful undertakings and dishonest activities. I strongly refute these baseless and unfounded claims,” she said.
Ong also clarified that she is not head of the Finance and Administration Department of the Office of the President as reported on the radio.
She said her function is limited to being head of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President with a mandate to directly supervise the Internal House Affairs Office.
Ong added that her responsibility involves direct supervision of day-to-day operations related to official functions and uses of the presidential residences/offices, and does not have any authority over any other office.