SEVERAL lawmakers led by Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman on Tuesday expressed openness to investigation as they denied allegations of receiving kickbacks from projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) allegedly in cahoots with district engineers based on the list provided by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) to President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte.
“I am comforted by the fact that the President clarified that there is no verified information in this regard. I am open to any investigation to establish the truth on this matter and I am sure that my honor will be vindicated. My conscience is clear,” Roman said after President Duterte read Monday night the PACC list of alleged corrupt lawmakers.
“I am shocked to hear that my name was mentioned by the President in a list of congressmen allegedly involved in anomalies in their projects. Public service has never been a money-making venture for me or my family whose good name is highly esteemed in our District,” said Roman.
Aside from Roman, President Duterte also named the following lawmakers who were included in the PACC list: Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Sato, former Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr., Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, Misamis Occidental Rep. Henry Oaminal, Isabela Rep. Alyssa Tan, Northern Samar Rep. Paul Daza, Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan, and ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap.
“The public should be aware that there is no hard evidence, that’s one; that it cannot be translated by just reading the names that they are already guilty because presumption of innocence would lie all throughout until conviction or acquittal. Kaya lang lumabas ‘yung mga pangalan nila eh kailangan ko sabihin sa mga tao or else I’d look stupid,” Duterte said.
“I just want to assure everybody that ‘yung pagbasa sa pangalan ninyo is not a condemnation or an indictment that you are guilty of something. In the same manner that I would tell the people that do not take it as a gospel truth,” Duterte added.
Vargas expressed belief that he will be cleared, stressing the President himself pointed out that there is no evidence against them.
“The President himself stated there is no solid evidence and mentioning of names is not an indictment”. I am certain that I will be cleared,” said Vargas.
“I am ready to submit myself to an investigation by the proper authority. Mere allegation is not proof. I have been a public servant for the last 12 years. My record is unblemished. My conscience is clear. I will not allow my political detractors, who misinformed PACC, to tarnish my name and reputation with wild accusations bereft of the truth. Mukha pong napadalhan ang PACC ng maling inpormasyon ng mga nakakalaban natin sa Pulitika,” Vargas said.
Yap hit Belgica for misleading the President, adding that the bidding for all projects ib Benguet were already finished when he assumed the role as the province’s caretaker.
“Pagdating ko dito bilang caretaker ng Benguet nung January 27, e halos tapos na ata lahat ng mag bidding ng project for 2020,” Yap said. “I’m not aware kung paano nangyayari ang bidding and ni minsan sa buong buhay ko, hindi pa ako nakapasok ng bidding ng DPWH.”
“Wala ako kasing pinapakialaman na construction firm e. Sa akin, naka-focus ako more on public service dito sa Benguet,” he said.
“Tumawag ka (Belgica) ba sa DPWH upang alamin kung inendorso ko ba si Lorna Ricardo upang maging district engineer ng Benguet o ng ibang probinsya? Bilang PACC, you should be responsible. ‘Yung ganyan kasi na papangalanan mo lang, para sa akin hindi investigation ‘yan. Ang ginagawa ko ninyo ay nagwi-witch hunt kayo,” Yap added.
Sato admitted being “devastated” by the PACC report as she maintained her innocence, stressing “it has no basis and is grossly unfair! I do not have any involvement in any corruption!”
“I categorically deny the baseless allegation hurled against me tonight. Apparently, the only basis is a report compiled by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission headed by Commissioner Greco Belgica. Even the President himself said that “walang ebidensya ito,” Sato said.
“Commissioner Belgica is a known ally and party mate of a prominent incumbent official in our province of Occidental Mindoro. This politician intends to run against me in the upcoming 2022 local elections. The report made by Commissioner Belgica which impinges on my credentials as a public servant is clearly calculated to sow intrigues and disruption in the local politics of Occidental Mindoro,” said Sato.
“As I stand by my solid track record in my more than 30 years of public service, I challenge Commissioner Belgica to prove his allegations against me by observing due process and the rule of law,” she said.
“Meanwhile, I shall continue serving my constituents in the province of Occidental Mindoro, as we continue to build back for a better normal amidst the pandemic and the recent typhoons that battered us,” Sato added.
Angelina Tan said the recent report “is not only derogatory but also prejudicial as it holds no water due to the lack of evidence—a fact which was also pointed out by the President in the same speech to which I am deeply saddened that such allegation exists.”
“This baseless accusation stems from an infrastructure project that I had spearheaded in 2016, the Gumaca Bypass Road. This P800-million project was designed primarily to save motorist travel time in Gumaca, Quezon. Likewise, it was intended to decongest heavy traffic in the area, stimulate local economic growth, encourage investors that would create jobs in the locality and improve the lives of my constituents.
Moreover, it is to fast track economic growth in nearby provinces by improving travel time through the said road project, such as those traversing the Manila-Bicol route and vice versa. And while the road has yet to be paved, a section of it is already being utilized by motorists as an alternate route to avoid the heavy traffic in the town of Gumaca. I had been very optimistic that this project would be completed within the five-year timeframe, stipulated in the contract,” said Tan.
“I had been diligent in ensuring that the project—from its conception to the release of funds—went through its proper course, making sure that the project will directly benefit my constituents and the neighboring provinces. And as proof, even the DPWH cited the said project in their official website as part of the agency’s deliverables. Had there been issues regarding its construction and implementation, it should be DPWH’s responsibility being the sole agency mandated to conduct all construction operations of public infrastructure of the state,” Tan stressed.
“It is a fact that the project had been derailed due to the ongoing pandemic and even more so with the onslaught of typhoons that resulted in massive flooding in the region—something that I no longer have control. It is hard not to feel dismayed and powerless with the sudden turn of fortuitous events, especially for my constituents who had been equally hopeful to the opportunities this project might bring to the locality. And as the duly elected representative of the 4th District of Quezon, it is my duty to address their most pressing concerns and offer solutions to the best of my ability. The inclusion of my name in the report released by the PACC, despite the lack of evidence, is not only malicious but also prejudicial, especially that the issue involves alleged corruption and conspiracy with DPWH,” Tan explained.
“My conscience is clear. I merely performed what my constituents expect of me and to bring into completion this project. In fact, just like them, I too am a victim for hoping that this project would be delivered without delay and within the timeframe that was promised. If there is someone that should be a subject of investigation it is the agency mandated to carry out the full implementation of the project. Despite the accusation of PACC to besmirch my reputation, I would like to thank the President for mentioning with caution that the accusations are bereft of evidence and are merely grounded on speculations. To clarify and put an end to this issue, I am willing to submit myself and to cooperate with the designated authorities conducting the investigation on this matter. As a public official, and a responsible citizen, it is my duty to be transparent and to be accountable to my constituents, especially on matters involving public interests,” Tan ended.
Daza said “it stemmed from, what I believe, a malicious complaint filed before the PACC by my local political opponents.”
“The President himself said he is not condemning anyone. PACC issued a report to him that in itself is unfair and not transparent. I never even got a chance to present my side to PACC,” Daza added.
“I’m 100% sure this was the handiwork of my local political opponents to feed to wrong libelous info to the PACC. In fact the records will show that it’s the reverse as we have been the ones complaining of anomalous projects in my district as early as 2016 perpetrated by former elected officials and certain contractors,” Daza added.
Alyssa Tan said, “I have never owned any construction company. I do not have any shares in any construction company. This truth can easily be verified by the PACC.”
Oaminal said, “When I became Congressman, I sold all my shares in accordance with law. Upon verification, HSO Construction Corporation does not have any construction projects in all government agencies in Misamis Occidental, including DPWH.”
Baguilat also denied the allegations against him. “Kung tumatanggap ako ng kickback noong congressman ako, di na sana ako naghihirap tumulong magbenta ng pinunnog, honey at kape ng mga Cordilleran producers.”
“’Yung meron ebidensya na nag Mañanita at lumabag sa batas eh promoted. Yung wala naman ebidensya na kumuha ng kickback, tinira sa primetime TV. I am aggrandized,” Baguilat said.
“As usual, they want to divert people’s attention with their latest dud. #LumangTacticNaIyan,” Baguilat said.