By Joey Natividad
CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region, 05oct2013 (BicolToday.com) – Representative Rolando Andaya, Jr. (1st District, Camarines Sur) lamented that until today he is not given the chance to explain, or to defend himself after being dragged into the Malampaya funds controversy that was exposed recently, an off-shoot from the Napoles PhP 10 billion pork barrel scam inquiry.
The questions he raised over insinuations about his alleged Malampaya involvement as (then) Budget Secretary have shown the absurdity of the “whichhunt” investigation.
The Malampaya gas project during the term of then President Gloria Arroyo was a multi-billion peso project, and just recently over-misuse of the funds was exposed to the public.
Representative Andaya that time was Budget Secretary, and investigators over the week have dragged his involvement into the controversy.
“I wasn’t allowed to confront my accusers or respond to the charges against me. I have volunteered myself to any investigation. But, not even a text was sent to me as an invitation. I was open for a grilling. Ang linya ko nga, “grill me,” lamented Congressman Andaya yesterday as he informed BicolToday.com
“I even gave hints that I was always ready to give a statement or an affidavit. Just one text or phone call, I would be there,” he said. “My offer for help was dejected, what happened next was ‘file now, investigate later’.”
Recalling, Andaya clarified the release of Malampaya funds was covered by an executive order, based on what has been agreed upon, or approved in the Cabinet meeting. The DBM only releases funds after reviewing all the pertinent documents and determine the need, or the beneficiaries – in this case, the typhoon victims.
“Hindi ko naman akalain na meron palang mga taong nakaabang na sa dulo na pagsasamantalahan ang isang trahedya para kumita ng pera at gumawa ng raket,” he said. (I did not know then that at the other end of the receiving line are persons who are waiting to make money, or engaged a racket out of the tragedy)
“What’s worrisome is that we are setting a precedent wherein all those involved in the ministerial release of the funds, including DBM officials, should be, from now on, become automatic co-accused in every graft cases to be filed in the country,” he pointed an intriguing question.
“If one district engineer buys one pail of fake asphalt, or one school principal hijacks money intended for books, or a mayor steals the money for medicines, this means that he or she would be charged alongside with the automatic co-accused from the DBM? Siguro kailangan ko ng isang batalyong abogado para humarap sa mga kaso. (If this is the case, I need a battalion of lawyers to handle the cases.)
“Not every request for fund release should be treated with criminal suspicion. In this case, who would have thought that funds for typhoon victims will find its way into the pockets, or bathtubs of others?”, he added.
Andaya also clarified that as Budget Secretary, his job description then was to release money for national funding requirements – a job that did not come with an early warning device that would alert me about a possible hijacking, or pilfering when the funds are on its way to the beneficiaries.
“As DBM chief, you always presume that all funding requirements are above board – always with the presumption of regularity. The only guidance that you could give to the people, or agencies entrusted with the people’s money, is that they should follow all budgeting, accounting and auditing rules and, of course, the procurement law – which I followed to the letter,” he stressed.
He also clarified that his name was never included in the affidavits executed by the whistleblowers. In the first case filed on behalf of the whistleblowers, which has 500,000 pages, his name was not mentioned.
“The whistleblowers said they have never seen me, or talked to me. Napoles doesn’t know me, and not even a paparazzi’s photograph could dispute this,” he said.
“If the so-called masterminds are the ones saying that I have no direct involvement in the plunder of Malampaya funds, why I am now being dragged into this?”, he posed the question.
“Why am I being made as co-accused, if evidence show that my only participation is the expediency, in the manner of the release of funds, to alleviate the miseries of the typhoon victims?”, another questioned he pondered.
“Ni kusing, di ako nakinabang dyan. Ang kasalanan ko lang ay pagsunod sa utos at batas na bigyan ng tulong ang mga biktima ng baha,” he said.(Not a single centavo I benefitted. My only fault was to obey the order and the law to release funds for assistance to the flood victims.)
“My participation was similar to providing funds to buy rice to feed the hungry, but after an investigation, the receipts showed liquor purchases. Thus, now I’m an accomplice?” he asked another question showing the absurdity of the investigation.
“Again, I’m begging my accusers to invite me in their quest for truth. Nandito lang po ako sa sidewalk ng daang matuwid,”(I am just here at the sidewalk of the ‘straight path) he said referring P-Noy’s motto. [BicolToday.com]