Gonzales to Jinggoy: Wala akong Napoles
MANILA – House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II maintained he has no links to Janet Lim Napoles, saying those charged for plunder over the pork barrel scam are those implicated on the basis of whistleblowers' testimony and not an audit report on the pork barrel funds.
Gonzales said no case has been filed before the Sandiganbayan as the complaints remain pending before the Ombudsman.
Gonzales also noted that Senator Jinggoy Estrada himself admitted some irregularity and illegality in the issuance of the Commission on Audit (COA) report.
Gonzales is saddened that he was dragged into the fray.
"I don’t know his intention, para ba ma-divert ang attention at haluan because I’m a member of the Liberal Party? Ang akin lang parang mali, mali ‘yung sinasabing bakit itong mga ito ‘di niyo dinemanda, eh kasama ba kami? Wala akong Napoles bakit ako masasama, ‘yung binabanggit niyang mga tao kasama na sa affidavit ni Benhur Luy,” he said.
Gonzales maintained though that the COA report is not final and should not have been released yet.
“As it is, COA report isn't final. In fact, if you will recall, even the chairman ng COA said the report is hearsay evidence. It cannot be basis of criminal prosecution," he said.
Gonzales pointed out there is no notice of disallowance yet for the audit findings of the COA about him.
The notice of disallowance will later on become the basis for criminal prosecution.
Gonzales said, after he received the COA report and was asked to comment, he asked the COA for the document for which his comment was sought. He has started to receive those documents and will respond immediately.
"As far as Mandaluyong is concerned, we're now in the process of securing documents," he said.
As far as the Jollibee fast food transactions are concerned, Gonzales assured Estrada those were used to feed people.
However, he could not immediately go into details. He pointed out though that he routinely feeds people during special occasions like birthdays.
Gonzales also explained transactions denied by suppliers in the report could have also meant that the suppliers didn’t reply to the confirmation sought by COA.
Gonzales said COA should have had exit conferences with them on each transaction.
He also noted that implementing agencies already certified that projects mentioned were implemented.
Gonzales believes suppliers who did not confirm transactions were avoiding paying the correct taxes. He also said cash advances were done by city hall employees.
Gonzales said he will not grill COA during the budget deliberations and neither will he use the floor to get even.
As floor leader, Gonzales' job includes enticing congressmen to shorten debates.
"My responsibility as a floor leader is to make sure the budget will be passed. Kahit naman noon ‘di ako nag-interpellate not because I’m afraid to. I find it awkward kung ako pipigil tapos magtatanong. Let it be said, I’m more a gentleman than to attack anybody belonging to another chamber," he said.
Gonzales confirmed though that because of his position as majority leader, he got more pork but he said even senators had that. Estrada was Senate president pro tempore.
Gonzales also said there was nothing wrong with former An Waray Rep. Florencio ‘Bem’ Noel putting some pork-funded projects in Mandaluyong since many Warays reside in Mandaluyong.
Noel maintained there is nothing that bars him from putting his PDAF in Mandaluyong. However, he also said that during his term as congressman, he was able to give PDAF to other LGU as well, well beyond Region 8, which is An Waray's regional constituency as party-list.
"Sana binanggit nila na may P30 million sa Makati, P35 million sa scholarship. Kung nararamdaman niya na-single out siya, ganoon din po ako, nararamdaman ko nararamdaman ni Senator Estrada," he said.
Noel also said many Warays live in Metro Manila.
He said he avoided putting PDAF in Malabon where his wife, Jaye Lacson Noel, is district representative.
He added that he has no PDAF in non-government organizations.
During the 15th Congress, Gonzales and Noel were among the highest House officials. Noel was chair of the accounts committee, in charge of the institutional expenses of the House of Representatives.