Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Villarosa and the Bribery in the Palace

I stumbled across a news item posted in http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/topofthehour.aspx?StoryId=98296. I copied and pasted it in here for people of Occidental Mindoro to read and ponder upon.

Deputy House chief: KAMPI gave 'cash gifts'
The deputy chief of the House of Representatives on Tuesday said that Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (KAMPI), President Arroyo's political party, was the source of the "cash gifts" distributed to administration congressmen and some governors who attended a Malacañang meeting on October 11.
Deputy Speaker Amelita Villarosa, the party's regional head, said that the P500,000 individually distributed to administration allies were sourced from KAMPI’s assistance fund.She said that the funds 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.
"We really do this we have members who need help," she told ABS-CBN News correspondent Paul Henson.Villarosa said that Secretary Ronaldo Puno of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, in his capacity as KAMPI chairman, 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.
Despite her revelations, Villarosa did not name those who received the money except for Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. who earlier said that the money either came from Villarosa or KAMPI. Abante is a member of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats.
"Actually party funds… they gave it to me because I was going to the Middle East to help OFWs," Abante said.
Villarosa said that money was also given to other members of the administration coalition.
When asked if President Arroyo, one of KAMPI’s founders, knew of the distribution of money, Villarosa said that the Chief Execurive knew nothing of the cash gifts.
Villarosa defended her late admission, saying she knew that the truth would eventually come out in the end.
Opposition congressmen, meanwhile, said they are not satisfied of Villarosa’s explanation.
"Hindi sapat na si Villarosa at Abante lang, dapat pati si [Arroyo] (The statements of Villarosa and Abante are not enough, Arroyo should issue a statement too)," Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel said.
The opposition urged the President to address the issue because the distribution of the cash gifts took place inside the palace.
Inquirer.net (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view_article.php?article_id=99156) has more substance.

Kampi gave cash gift to solons--party exec

The money that was given to congressmen in Malacañang last October came from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Partner of the Free Filipino), a party official admitted to INQUIRER.net Tuesday.
Deputy Speaker Ma. Amelita Villarosa of the House of Representatives and regional head of Kampi, issued the confirmation shortly after Manila Representative Bienvenido Abante Jr. identified her as the source of the fund that was given to him during the legislators’ breakfast meeting with the President at the Palace last October 11.
Arroyo founded Kampi, a member of the ruling coalition at the House, along with Speaker Jose de Venecia’s Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats.
Villarosa said Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno, Kampi chairman, knew about the disbursement but did not know that it would be distributed in Malacañang.
“Siyempre, chairman yun e. He [Puno] knows the disbursement pero hindi niya alam ang detalye, [Of course, he’s chairman. He knew about the disbursement but not the details],” Villarosa said in a phone interview.
“Tinawagan niya ako. Hindi ba dapat kay JDV [Speaker Jose de Venecia] manggagaling yun? E sabi ko nga, maliit naman yung galing sa kanya, P200,000 [He called me up. Isn’t the money supposed to come from JDV? But I told him that the money that would come from the Speaker was small, P200,000],” she said referring to the monthly allowance of House members.
Villarosa said she took it upon herself to distribute the money at the Palace because the legislators were leaving for their respective provinces for the congressional break.
“Kasi paalis na kami. E andun ako [in the meeting]. Instead na ako ang mamigay, pinabigay ko na lang [We were about to leave. I was there. So instead of me giving the money, I asked somebody else to give it],” she said.
She refused to identify those who had received the money except for Abante Jr., who had admitted to receiving P500,000.
Asked why Kampi would give assistance to Abante, a member of the ruling Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, Villarosa said it was because her party provided assistance on a case-to-case basis, whether they were with the administration or the opposition bloc.
“Yung humihingi, binibigyan naming [Those who ask, we give]. Pag Christmas season o kung may bagyo [If it’s the Christmas season or if there’s a typhoon], it’s normal to us. May assistance funds kami [We have assistance funds] but we don’t encourage them to come to us,” she explained.
“It’s a case-to-case basis, Sinasabi lang sa akin yung request, hindi naman kami kasi ganun ka pormal [The request is being forwarded to me. It’s not that formal]. Sasabihin sa akin [They’ll tell me], I need your help then I’ll tell them, let’s see. But that’s normal,” she pointed out.
Even opposition members sometimes also sought assistance from their party, Villarosa said.
In fact, Villarosa said some opposition members whom she did not name had even asked assistance from Kampi when they traveled to China recently.
In the case of Abante, Villarosa said she gave him money because he had a flock ministry and was leaving for Saudi Arabia that time.
Villarosa said she only came out now simply because they did not want all lawmakers to seek financial help from Kampi.
Asked why Kampi had allowed allegations of bribery to be heaped on the President, Villarosa said it was because they were confident that Arroyo would not be affected by the issue.
“Hindi naapektuhan ng ganyang news si Presidente [The President is not affected by news like that]. Focused siya sa economic reforms [She is focused on economic reforms]. Alam din naman naming [We also know] that the truth will come out later. We’ll just take the news as they come and it will end one day. Hindi kami agad nagre-react sa [We don’t immediately react to] newspapers. Anyway, it can be corrected later,” she said.
But Villarosa admitted that in passing, she had told the President about the disbursement.
When asked, however, why the President had ordered an investigation on the matter when she told her about it, Villarosa said, “Of course, she [Arroyo] has to do that.”
Villarosa insisted however that there was nothing irregular about the cash distribution and that there was no need for an investigation since the money was a private fund.
“What is the investigation for? That is party fund. We’re not supposed to be audited for that. That is our private fund and it should not be subjected to an investigation,” she said.
“There’s nothing wrong with that. Hindi naman namin kinuha yan sa [We didn’t get that from] Malacañang. We have our own accounts, we have our own funding, we have our own organization,” she added.
Earlier on Tuesday, Abante spilled the beans on Villarosa.
Abante said Villarosa made the call Monday after he was interpellated by Sorsogon Representative Salvador Escudero of the opposition about the money the Manila lawmaker was given.
“Girlie [Villarosa’s nickname] and she told me that ‘I’m the one who actually disbursed the funds,’” Abante said in a phone interview.
“Tinawagan niya uli ako kanina [She called me again today]. Sabi niya sa akin [She told me] that ‘the funds that were given to you and the other congressmen came from the party funds of Kampi’ and I told her ‘Ganun ba [Is that so]?’ Sabi ko na lang ‘salamat [I told her ‘Thank You’].’”
Abante said he was surprised to receive the money from Kampi since he was a member of Lakas.
“Hindi naman ako magka-Kampi. Pero hindi ko na kinuwestiyon. Pinag-iisipan ko na lang ngayon kung ibabalik pa o hindi. Kung ibabalik ko mapapahiya naman sila [I will not join Kampi. But I did not question it anymore. I am thinking however whether I should return the money or not. If I return it, they might get embarrassed],” said Abante.
Asked if Kampi’s admission would exonerate the President from bribery allegations, Abante said, “In a way, yes she will be.”
Arroyo had been accused of bribery after several lawmakers and even local officials admitted to receiving money from the Palace ranging from P200,000 to P500,000.
Reports said the money was in exchange for the officials’ support for Arroyo who is facing several impeachment complaints at the House.
What does it say? First, Villarosa belied all the efforts of the ULAP to cover up the bribery in Malacanan. Nagpalabas pa naman sila ng paid ads sa diyaryo.. This is interesting because the Governor of Occidental Mindoro, Nene Sato, was among the signatories of the said paid ads. So, this is now a case of Villarosa telling Sato the latter lied. Sa KAMPI naman pala talaga galing ang pera..
Secondly, si Villarosa, minsan-minsan na nga lamang ma-interview ng national media, controversy pa.. At di lang basta-basta controversy, moral controversy!!!
Lastly, hindi lamang alam ni Villarosa ang tungkol sa controversy... she's a part of it...
Kasalanan ko ito... Hindi ako gumawa nang mas higit pa upang di siya nanalo noong Mayo...

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