ANTI-PORK activists on Sunday said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad was the “missing link” that could unmask President Benigno Aquino III as the Pork Barrel King, a charge that the Palace dismissed as a lie and a deception.
The 6.12.14 Coalition, which will mount a nationwide indignation rally on June 12, said this was the reason the President was covering up for Abad, two other Cabinet members and allied lawmakers.
“Aquino, by filing cases solely against political opponents, seeks to divert the public outrage against his government and cover up his role as Pork Barrel King,” said Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan chairman and co-convenor of #AbolishPork Movement.
The coalition demanded that the government make public the details of the dealings between alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles and Aquino’s allies.
“The youth are not ignorant of the national government’s budget process. Congress legislates the budget, and the President – through Department of Budget and Management -- approves the release of funds. Therefore, we firmly believe that Secretary Abad is the missing link that would connect the pork barrel scam to the Pork King himself, President Aquino,” said Youth Act Now spokesman Victor Villanueva.
“In fact, we were not surprised at all when Aquino defended Abad and several other Cabinet members involved in the scam. It is not in the interest of justice, but it’s because the President is afraid that the scam is getting too close to him for comfort,” Villanueva said.
But Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma waved aside the accusation.
“Detractors should stop misleading the public with lies and deception,” Coloma said in a text message.
“President Aquino’s decisive leadership in instituting good governance has earned the continuing trust and confidence of the Filipino people,” Coloma added.
Aquino earlier insisted that Abad is innocent until proven guilty, after Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani called for Abad’s resignation last week.
Napoles and two whistleblowers in the pork barrel case, Benhur Luy and Merlina Suñas, tagged Abad as among the early conspirators in the scam.
Villanueva noted that Napoles she claimed in an affidavit submitted to the Justice Department that Abad mentored her in the practice of using bogus non-government organizations to secure government funds.
“Even in the sworn affidavits submitted by Napoles, she explained that she cannot operate without the help of those that approve the release of government funds,” Villanueva said.
“But we find the Napoles affidavit to be lacking an essential part – the details of her operations during the Aquino administration,” Villanueva added.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes said despite the filing of plunder charges before the Sandiganbayan, various groups were determined to push through with protest actions on June12 as the legal actions still have not included allies of the President.
“Bayan will join the #AbolishPork movement in Liwasang Bonifacio at 3 p.m. before holding a torch march to Mendiola,” Reyes said.
He said those who have signed on for the June12 rally for accountability include the Victims Against Crime and Corruption, the Concerned Citizens Movement, the Whistleblowers Association, Youth AcT Now, Artista Kontra Korapsyon, Babae Laban sa Katiwalian, the UP Faculty vs Pork as well as religious leaders Mo. Mary John Mananzan and Archbishop Oscar Cruz.
“All those involved in the scam, including allies of the President should be made accountable. The Pork Barrel King himself should be held accountable for the illegal and unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program and for the cover-up of the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam involving his allies,” Reyes said.
Crisostomo said the people’s outrage and the continuing protests against pork barrel pushed the Aquino government to file charges against several senators and accomplices involved in the pork scam.
“These past months have exposed Aquino’s role in defending the pork barrel system and covering up cases of corruption. It was revealed that Aquino already had prior knowledge about lists of those involved in the scam, which included Aquino allies like Butch Abad, (Agriculture Secretary) Proceso Alcala and key leaders of the ruling Liberal Party,” Crisostomo said.
He said the President has not abolished congressional pork and has defended his own DAP.
“Aquino has retained a trillion-peso pork fund and has covered up kickbacks amassed through anomalous Public Private Partnership deals like the MRT train bribe try,” Crisostomo said.
He said Filipinos will no longer be fooled by Aquino’s “empty anti-corruption posturing” targeting political opponents while exempting party mates and Cabinet members.
Villanueva said the youth group has launched a series of “Black Friday protests” in several cities throughout the country.
Last Friday in España Boulevard in Manila, Villanueva said members of Youth Act Now held a protest action at around 5 p.m. to call for the prosecution of everyone involved in the pork barrel scam.
“Just as we join the call for the prosecution of everyone involved in the pork barrel scam, we also call on Napoles and everyone in the know to divulge more details, especially the modus operandi of pork scammers during the Aquino administration,” Villanueva said.
“We are very close to exposing the large-scale corruption that is operating, we believe, until the very present. We should not let ourselves be blinded and stuck with Napoles’ version of the truth. For there is more to this issue than what she has already divulged,” he added.
Villanueva said Abad’s alleged involvement in the multibillion peso pork barrel and Malampaya scams takes the case one step closer to the Palace and President Aquino himself.
Villanueva also said his group would join the multi-sectoral anti-pork rally on June 12.
“On Independence Day, the youth will once again show our indignation against this corrupt government that continues to cover up its wrongdoing and pilfer billions of public funds. The youth will stop at nothing to ensure that everyone involved would be prosecuted,” Villanueva said.
“As the Aquino rule continues to be exposed as corrupt and rotten, the people’s desire to oust Aquino and change the rotten, corrupt system gains strength,” Crisostomo added. – With Joyce Pangco Pañares
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