MANILA — With the issuance by the Sandiganbayan of warrants of arrest against some employees of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) allegedly involved in the priority development assistance fund (PDAF), Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad sees this as a “good opportunity” for them to clear their names.
“We understand that the PDAF scam investigation is a crucial, necessary step in establishing greater transparency and accountability in the Philippine government. We recognize as well that the current probe is a good opportunity for Usec. (Mario) Relampagos and his staff to clear their names and present the truth in the appropriate venue,” said Abad in a statement on Friday.
“Notwithstanding the Sandiganbayan’s issuance of arrest warrants for Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and his staff, we will continue to pursue budget reforms towards greater transparency and accountability, concurrent to the Aquino administration’s good governance campaign, he added.
Abad said the DBM has gained much from Relampagos’ leadership.
“He (Relampagos) and his office have served the budget department for many years with faith and dedication. We remain appreciative of their role in strengthening the budget process and bringing greater efficiency to it, and will extend the necessary support to them in the course of the investigation,” he noted.
At the same time, the DBM chief expressed confidence in the “wisdom and fairness” of the Sandiganbayan in its pursuit of cases related to the PDAF scam.
“Although recent revelations on PDAF misuse have on occasion been dubious and conflicting, we are optimistic that the Sandiganbayan will carefully study all evidence at its disposal and resolve the cases accordingly,” he said.
“We in the DBM believe that corruption has no place in the management of public funds. The National Budget should wholly serve the citizens and respond to the country’s unique development needs. We join the country in calling for the swift dispensation of justice in these cases, and trust that those responsible for the abuse of public funds will be held answerable to the Filipino people,” he added.
The Sandiganbayan First Division earlier issued warrants of arrest against Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla and 31 others which included Relampagos and some DBM employees after the anti-graft court issued a resolution finding probable cause for their involvement in the pork barrel scam.