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Ruffy Biazon on ‘pork’ charges: I’m innocent

Former Customs chief Ruffy Biazon. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Former Customs chief Ruffy Biazon. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Former Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon said on Thursday he could prove that P3 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as Muntinlupa representative went to real projects contrary to the findings of the Office of the Ombudsman.

Biazon, one of the latest to be criminally charged over the P10-billion pork barrel scam, said he had submitted the affidavits of more than 100 persons who benefited from livelihood projects funded with his PDAF.

These, he said, would dispute allegations that his PDAF was misused for ghost projects.

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“I maintain my innocence from the allegations and I am more than adequately prepared for my defense in a venue where I will be given the opportunity to argue my case versus their allegations, to scrutinize their basis and present my evidence, to cross examine their witnesses and let mine be heard,” he said in a statement.

He said that the beneficiaries were ready to testify they had received assistance from his pork barrel.

He said he remained quiet after he resigned as customs commissioner amid allegations of misuse of his pork barrel but is now forced to speak up to defend himself.

“I will abide by the legal process and fight for my right and innocence in the court of law,” Biazon said. “I trust that the court will conduct fair proceedings and exercise wise and sober judgment on the case. And so with this optimism and hope, I believe that I will be able to uphold my honor and dignity.”

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales had ordered Biazon and four other former congressmen charged with various counts of graft, malversation and direct bribery before the Sandiganbayan for their misuse of PDAF.

The four others were Rodolfo Valencia of Oriental Mindoro, Arrel Olaño of Davao del Norte, Marc Douglas Cagas IV of Davao del Sur and Arthur Pingoy Jr. of South Cotabato.

Also to be charged were Energy Regulatory (ERC) Commission Chair Zenaida Ducut, alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, her associates in bogus nongovernment organizations, and officials of the Department of Budget and Management, Technology Resource Center and National Business Corp.

According to the Ombudsman, Biazon received P1.9 million in so-called rebates through Ducut when he allocated P3 million of his PDAF in 2007 to the Philippine Social Foundation Inc.—a bogus NGO controlled by Napoles.

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Former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said the Ombudsman’s latest action should have been done earlier.

Protected by the President

“Despite Akbayan’s two-and-a half-year-old petition to the Office of the President to have her (Ducut) removed from office as ERC chief for involvement in Napoles’ scam and gross failure to protect energy consumers, she remains ensconced there, protected by the President and his subordinates,” Bello said on Wednesday.

The cases against the lawmakers stemmed from separate complaints filed by the National Bureau of Investigation and lawyer Levito Baligod, who used to represent whistle-blowers Benhur Luy, Marina Sula and Merlina Sunas.

The latest indictments were part of the second batch of PDAF-related complaints that the Department of Justice submitted to the Ombudsman.

A third batch reportedly implicating more administration allies is still pending in the DOJ and has not been transmitted to the Ombudsman. With a report from Gil Cabacungan

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TAGS: Biazon, pork barrel scam, pork scam, Ruffy Biazon
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