‘Pork’ issue getting out of hand

Published by rudy Date posted on July 25, 2011

The issue of the non-release of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to some members of the House of Representatives is getting out of control as Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco yesterday challenged Budget and Management Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad and presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda to be man enough to own up responsibility over the pork barrel problem.

The lawmaker, in a statement, said instead of passing the blame of the non-release of the PDAF to Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Lacierda should have simply verified with Abad regarding the

Budget secretary’s text asking the Navotas representative to seek President Aquino’s intervention on his pork barrel.

“With all due respect, Atty. Lacierda should have simply verified with Secretary Abad if, indeed, he sent me a text message instead of passing off the responsibility for the non-release of the PDAF to the Speaker. That was quite careless of Atty. Lacierda considering that the Speaker has nothing to do with this issue in the first place,” Tiangco lamented.

“To date, the Department of Budget and Management secretary is yet to comment on or deny the issue surrounding his text message. To end these speculations and all this finger-pointing, I dare Secretary Abad to deny that he sent me that text message. If he doesn’t then it just proves that it is true.”

“That President Aquino would withhold these funds from us just sounds ridiculous, and Secretary Abad should not be allowed to claim thus if it is untrue. Some sort of reprimand should be in order because his actions and statements are putting the President in a bad light,” he stressed.

The other day, Tiangco accused Malacañang of withholding the PDAF of the lawmakers who voted against the measures to impeach then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and to postpone the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections.

Then, Tiangco revealed that Abad texted him saying he needs to talk to Aquino regarding his PDAF.

“Congressman Tiangco, I read your PR (press release) today (July 22) re your PDAF. On my own, I cannot withhold any legislator’s PDAF. I suggest you find a way to talk to PNoy (Aquino’s monicker). The Speaker can help you along this line,” Abad’s text to Tiangco read.

But Lacierda said the PDAF issue should be addressed by Belmonte, not by Aquino.

“That information is incorrect. Congressman Toby Tiangco was quoted there, my suggestion to Congressman Tiangco and also to other congressmen is to discuss and confer with Speaker Belmonte and to see what the real score is,” Lacierda was quoted saying by reporters.

Tiangco said he joined the majority because he believes in both Aquino’s “tuwid na daan” (straight path) and in the leadership of Belmonte.

He, however, noted that if any member of the President’s Cabinet is unofficially using his name to justify this issue, “then they should be reprimanded at the very least.” Charlie V. Manalo and Gerry Baldo, Daily Tribune

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