Ex-Rep. Syjuco to Aquino: Why pick on me?By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
ILOILO CITY, Philippines—Former Iloilo Rep. Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco asked the President Aquino to stop making him a “punching bag.”
“Before you chide a person, especially in public and in a formal forum, give him a chance to explain to you,” Syjuco appealed to the President in an in interview.
In his state of the nation address (Sona) last Monday, the President again verbally attacked Syjuco, something that he repeatedly did during the campaign for the May elections.
Aquino made an example of Syjuco when he launched into his spiel about his administration’s anticorruption campaign. He cited the former Iloilo congressman’s liability in the alleged overpriced purchase of training materials for the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) when Syjuco headed the agency in the previous Arroyo administration.
His day in court
“Perhaps when he finally has his day in court to face the cases filed by the Ombudsman, Mr. Syjuco will finally learn to count,” the President said in his speech.
Syjuco is facing six graft charges before the Sandiganbayan antigraft court in connection with the alleged P61-million overpricing in the purchase of Tesda training materials. The Sandiganbayan has issued a hold-departure-order against him.
Syjuco has repeatedly denied the charges.
He said he stopped the payment of P39.7 million to a supplier when he discovered the irregularity and asked the National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice to conduct an investigation.
“How can I be held accountable for an unconsummated anomaly when I was the one who stopped the transaction and had it investigated? I am the hero, not the villain,” he said.
After 15 years as the representative of Iloilo’s second congressional district, Syjuco was voted out of office in the May elections.
He was defeated by Iloilo Rep. Arcadio Gorriceta, a close ally of Aquino in the Liberal Party.
During his visits to the province during the last elections to campaign for administration candidates, including Gorriceta, the President repeatedly attacked Syjuco, accusing him of corruption.
Syjuco said the President would not talk to him during the Sonas in Congress and refused to see him when he went to Malacañang.
He believes he is being repeatedly targeted by the administration because of his close association with the Arroyo government.
But Aquino was “ill-advised” on the charges against him, Syjuco said.
“Mister President, lend me an ear before you judge me. There is nothing to lose,” he said.