Andaya on plunder: Why file now, investigate later?
MANILA - Former Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya, Jr. questioned the inclusion of his name in the complaint filed at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged plunder of Malampaya funds.
He said he was not even asked for his side on the matter even if he had been telling probers he was willing to be grilled.
“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. My offer for help was dejected, what happened next was ‘file now, investigate later,’” he said.
Andaya is one of several respondents in the alleged misuse of the P900 million Malampaya funds, which also includes former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.
“My 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, not one alphabet of my name was mentioned,” he noted.
He said not one whistleblower knows him, nor does Janet Napoles. The Malampaya funds, earmarked for energy-related projects, supposedly went to Napoles’ coffers.
“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…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 the funds to alleviate the miseries of the typhoon victims?”
Andaya, who is now Camarines Sur First District representative, said: “My 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.”
He said he remembers the Malampaya fund was covered by an executive order to ease the devastation caused by several typhoons in 2009.
“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.
He likened his role as someone who provided funds to buy rice, only to find out that receipts showed liquor purchases.
“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 said.
“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 said.
With the filing of the complaint at the Ombudsman, he said he may need a battalion of lawyers.