MANILA -- House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II on Wednesday said there was nothing anomalous with the P6 million Jollibee purchases he made from 2007 to 2009, as specified in a special report of the Commission on Audit (COA).
"Hindi ko naman maidedeny what's already part of the COA report," Gonzales said in an interview with radio dzMM shortly after Senator Jinggoy Estrada delivered his privilege speech on Wednesday afternoon.
In his privilege speech, Estrada asked why Gonzales was not questioned by the COA despite the transactions. "Dahil ba miyembro ng Liberal Party? Nagtatanong lang po," he said.
Gonzales explained that the funds were used to feed his constituents during some of his events such as birthday parties.
"Ang hindi nabanggit ni Sen. Estrada dun, maraming transactions yun. Ibig sabihin hindi naman isang araw na bumili ka ng P6 million [na Jollibee]," he said, noting that the COA recorded almost 200 transactions in a span of three years.
'Don't drag me in pork scam'
The representative of Mandaluyong also hit Estrada for dragging him into the pork barrel scam.
Estrada, who is one of the three senators facing plunder charges before the Ombudsman for his alleged involvement in the anomaly, slammed the COA's supposed partiality and objectivity for not highlighting irregularities in the fund disbursements of other lawmakers including Gonzales.
"I'd like to make it clear lang, with due respect to Sen. Jinggoy, ang pagkakademanda sa kanila is hindi naman because of the COA report...[but] because of the affidavit executed by the whistleblowers," Gonzales said.
"Ang problema sa script ni Jinggoy, siya mismo nagsabi kine-kwestiyon niya the manner, the procedure, mali raw ang ginawa ng COA. And yet, yun din ang naging basis niya for accusing people who are part of the COA report from 2007 to 2009," he added.
Gonzales also said there was nothing wrong with his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) projects, which all went to his district in Mandaluyong.
"Kaya lahat talaga ng pondo ko mapupunta diyan," he said.
He also said none of his pork barrel funds was coursed through non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Gonzales also explained that if the suppliers he chose for his projects haven't replied to the confirmation sought by COA, it does not necessarily mean that no transactions were made.
Gonzales said there was also no irregularity with former An Waray Party-list Rep. Florencio "Bem" Noel's decision to use P25 million of his funds for projects in Mandaluyong.
"Sino ba naman ang tatanggi na pag sinabing gustong tumulong sa iyo dahil nandoon ang mga kababayan niya? Sino naman ang congressman na tatanggi?" he said.