UNA hits fund misuse in IloiloBy Karen V. Bermejo, Nestor P. Burgos Jr. |, Norman BordadoraPhilippine Daily Inquirer
ILOILO CITY—Campaigning in Iloilo this week, Vice President Jejomar Binay and the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) may very well have thought that they had uncovered unmistakable signs that all is not straight and righteous in the Aquino administration.
In a press conference here on Tuesday, Binay and the UNA denounced the alleged misuse of P45.7 million in public funds by the provincial government whose incumbent officials are running in the May 13 elections under the ruling Liberal Party.
They called on the Commission on Elections and the Department of Education to investigate the Iloilo provincial government’s disbursement of P40 million for educational assistance and P5.7 million in assistance to selected villages.
“We have elevated the complaint to the Comelec,” said Binay, even as he admitted that it was difficult to get the necessary evidence.
Government funds are “shamelessly being spent for the political survival of those seeking government positions,” said Iloilo Rep. Ferjenel Biron, the UNA gubernatorial candidate.
Biron’s running mate, former Iloilo vice governor Rolex Suplico, said the release of the funds constituted “electioneering,” considering the timing.
At least P40 million was released in educational assistance to high school students through the office of Gov. Arthur Defensor, said Suplico. Defensor is running for reelection under the LP.
The governor has denied that there were any irregularities in the release of the funds. “It is for a very good purpose,” he said.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the Iloilo fund releases being questioned were not meant to influence the results of the local elections, particularly in the bailiwicks of the LP’s political opponents.
“No, those are regular releases intended to benefit their respective constituents,” Abad, a senior LP leader, said in a text message.
But the budget secretary said he would look into the fund releases.