Tuesday, November 6, 2007
The Problem When You Bribe... And Fail To Control Your Big Mouth!
The following are reports from http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/.
Pangilinan says Villarosa lying, urges Senate probe
Majority Floor Leader Francis Pangilinan said Wednesday he will ask the Senate leadership to immediately start an investigation into bribery allegations involving Malacañang and administration congressmen, radio dzMM reported.
The report also said Pangilinan rejected Deputy Speaker Amelita Villarosa's admission that the money given to congressmen was part of the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino's (KAMPI) assistance fund.
He also doubted Villarosa's claim because it took her nearly a month to own up to the distribution of the "cash gift" inside paper bags.
The senator added that at least P120 million in cash was distributed to congressmen and other local officials during a meeting in Malacañang on October 11.
At the same time, Pangilinan dismissed the congresswoman's statement that said President Arroyo was unaware of the distribution of cash gifts.
He said even a Grade 1 pupil would know that Villarosa was lying.
Mrs. Arroyo is a founding member of KAMPI. Villarosa had admitted that the cash distribution took place after Mrs. Arroyo met administration congressmen in Malacañang.
Pangilinan said he will ask the Senate leadership to act on Sen. Panfilo Lacson's resolution that seeks to investigate the bribery allegations against Malacañang.
Villarosa earlier said she is willing to be investigated by the House ethics committee regarding the cash gift KAMPI distributed to some members of administration coalition.
"Walang problema diyan. Kung ano ang dapat gawin, gawin natin (No problem. We should do whatever must be done) in accordance with the law," Villarosa told ABS-CBN's morning show, "Umagang Kay Ganda."
Reports Tuesday said Villarosa admitted that the KAMPI gave up to P500,000 in cash gifts to some congressmen who attended the Malacañang meeting.
Villarosa, however, clarified that only Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante and La Union Rep. Thomas Dumpit received P500,000 each during the meeting.
She said the money came from KAMPI's assistance funds. She added the cash gift given to Abante was intended for his visit to the Saudi Arabia last month.
When asked why it took her almost a month to admit that the cash gift came from KAMPI, Villarosa said the party "doesn't advertise" the help extended to congressmen.
"If we give assistance to our allies, we don't flaunt it. We help silently. That is a private thing for us," Villarosa said, adding that even Mrs. Arroyo was unaware of the cash gift.
The congresswoman added that she decided to keep the cash gift secret even after Mrs. Arroyo ordered the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission to investigate the allegations of bribery. Villarosa said she was confident the truth will come out."
We have a different approach on how things should be handled. We have our ways," Villarosa said.
Abante, meanwhile, said the money is still intact and he never used it while he was away in Saudi Arabia, adding that he learned about the real purpose of the funds only after his return Monday. The congressman said no one told him what the money was for when it was given to him.
"I was gone for more than two weeks. The money is there. Upon my return, my only question was where the money really came from. When I returned on Monday they told me it came from KAMPI's assistance fund," he said.
Abante said he still has his reservations about KAMPI's sudden admission. He, however, said he is thankful. He said he will use the money for his constituents in Manila.
"I received the money, which was given to me in good faith by KAMPI. It's fine with me," he said.
He added that he tried to return the money to Villarosa but she told him, "That is a gift contribution to you and to your [constituents]."
Villarosa said Tuesday that Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, in his capacity as KAMPI chairman, was aware of the cash distribution. He was not told that it will be distrubted in Malacañang, she said.
But at the height of the controversy sparked and questions created by the distribution of the cash gifts last month, Puno made statements that the money might have come from the party funds of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats.
He told the media to ask Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. about the cash gift.
Apostol to Villarosa: Stop talking
Short of saying that she should "shut up," Sergio Apostol, President Arroyo's chief legal adviser told Deputy Speaker Amelita Villarosa to refrain from talking about the distribution of "cash gifts" in Malacanang on Octover 11, dzMM reported Wednesday.
Apostol said Villarosa's statement further mixes up the issue because Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno already attributed the cash gifts that went as high as P500,000 to Speaker Jose de Venecia.
Apostol is a regional officer of the dominant Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats party while de Venecia is party president.
Puno, on the other hand, is chairman of the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino, the party co-founded by Mrs. Arroyo. Villarosa, meanwhile, is a regional chief for KAMPI.
Apostol said that Villarosa's admission has made the Ombudsman's ongoing investigation into the cash gift scandal easier.
He added that it would also be better to investigate Villarosa immediately.Villarosa admitted Tuesday that the money distributed to administration congressmen were from the coffers of KAMPI.
The congresswoman said that P500,000 individually distributed to administration allies were intended for medical missions and funerals. She also said that the amounts given varied. She said some congressmen receiving amounts as low as P5,000.
Villarosa said that Puno was aware of the cash distribution. He, however, was not told that it was scheduled in Malacañang, she said.The deputy House chief added that she was the one who initiated the distribution inside the palace while the congressmen were convening since most of them were heading to their respective provinces for vacation following the congressional recess.