The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) smells something fishy in a Commission on Audit (COA) report linking two of its leaders to the release of some P195 million in pork barrel to a bogus nongovernment organization.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada were clearly the targets of the COA report published by the Inquirer on Thursday, said Rep. Toby Tiangco, the coalition’s campaign manager.
“They are leaders of UNA, and the clear intent is to hit our leaders hoping it would affect UNA candidates,” Tiangco said in a statement.
He said it was clearly an act of desperation. “But it also reveals their desperation,” he added, referring to President Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP).
“The demolition work against UNA leaders has intensified because the LP cannot deny what is happening on the ground: Big crowds are attending UNA rallies and sorties, while their political events are nilalangaw,” he said.
But Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada, an LP spokesperson, said the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund was not about who disclosed it to the media but whether it was true.
“I think my friend, Representative (Toby) Tiangco misses the point,” Tañada said.
Tiangco insisted that Enrile and Estrada should not be the subject of campaign attacks, noting that they are not candidates.
But if this would be so, he said UNA could also return the favor to Sen. Franklin Drilon, his counterpart at the administration coalition.
“We could just as easily ask Sen. Franklin Drilon, their campaign manager, to answer the long-festering questions about his purchase of property in Forbes Park, but we won’t, because he is not a candidate,” he said.
Tiangco said the COA report was made public “without fail” in time for the elections “for obvious political purposes.”
“Without fail, complaints are filed in the Ombudsman against political personalities and candidates based on COA reports,” he said.
He said this year was no exception. “But what sets this election year apart from the previous elections is the eagerness with which the LP—the so-called party espousing a righteous path—has embraced the discredited practices of the Arroyo regime of harassing political enemies with trumped-up allegations which will not stand in a court of law.”—With a report from Norman Bordadora