Palace insists no P50M bribe for senators
MANILA - Malacañang stood by its response to Senator Jinggoy Estrada's privilege speech that it did not give a P50 million incentive to senators for the conviction of former chief justice Renato Corona.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said priority development assistance fund (PDAF) releases made to senators after Corona's conviction was part of the "regular fund releases" and that the schedules of releases could be compared and verified in the website of the Department of Budget and Management.
"There was a release, 'yung normal fund releases nila. Because in every year, meron naman talagang fund releases sa kanila… It's not 'a play on words,' I disagree, because when you say there was a release for the specific purpose of bribing, of giving an incentive or a reward, then that's not the truth, 'di ba?'
"Nagkakaroon ng fund releases. In fact, sinabi nga ni Secretary Abad, 'yung ibang mga releases sa kanila na naka-schedule naman, either na-release nila nang maaga or na-defer nila kasi ayaw nga naming mapagbintangan na nagkakaroon ng kulay 'yung mga fund releases na ganito," she said.
"As far as the executive is concerned, we can categorically tell you that there was no 50 million that was given to the senators as a bribe, as a reward or as an incentive for the conviction of the former chief justice."
On the revelation that "non-PDAF" or funds of other agencies were also allegedly embezzled by the Napoles group, Valte said the Palace is leaving the matter for Secretary Proceso Alcala to investigate and is taking the appropriate action, including questions on the involvement of Agriculture Undersecretary Antonio Fleta.
"We'll leave it to Secretary Alacala to take the necessary steps in his judgment would be appropriate in light with the revelation of Senator Pimentel," Valte said.
Meantime, Valte said President Aquino was able to monitor part of Estrada's delivery of his privilege speech Wednesday.
"From what I understand he did call Secretary Abad to say that, 'O nabanggit ka' and then 'Just say what you have to say,'" she said.