Bearing gifts, JPE pays Duterte a visit
President Rodrigo Duterte has met with former senator and pork barrel scam suspect Juan Ponce Enrile in Malacañang, days after the chief executive hinted at selective prosecution over the case, an official said on Thursday.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Wednesday’s meeting between Mr. Duterte and Enrile was just a “social call.” Also present was Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
“The senator gave books to the President and discussed current developments in the country. It was a brief and cordial meeting capped by a photo opportunity,” Abella said.
Asked if the two discussed the pork barrel scam controversy, in which public funds for legislators’ pet projects were allegedly funneled to fake nongovernment organizations, he reiterated that the meeting was “described only as a social call, and the gifting of books to the President.”
A brief Palace video of portions of the meeting showed Enrile handing three books to Mr. Duterte.
Enrile also told the President that he had a letter for him about “current problems.” He did not elaborate.
The meeting between Mr. Duterte and Enrile also comes after the President backed the Solicitor General in seeking the reversal of the illegal detention conviction of Janet Napoles, another suspect in the pork barrel scam controversy.
Napoles was accused of masterminding the scheme to use bogus NGOs for the lawmakers’ pork barrel funds, which then allegedly went to private pockets.
Early this week, Mr. Duterte was asked what he planned to do with Napoles, whether he would look for other pork barrel suspects or her co-conspirators.
Mr. Duterte replied that he would “try to assess,” because it seemed the prosecution had been “selective.”
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