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Drilon says plunder charge against him baseless

/ 05:21 AM September 26, 2013

Sen. Franklin Drilon: Baseless. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Franklin Drilon on Wednesday described the plunder case filed against him by political rival and former Iloilo congressman Augusto Syjuco Jr. as “malicious and baseless” and part of the demolition job to destroy his reputation.

“This was part of efforts to dishonor me and make me appear crooked and morally incapable to handle the pork barrel scam issue as Senate President,” Drilon said in statement Wednesday.

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He said allegations in the complaint were “invented by Syjuco and his cohorts who are riding on the wave of controversy on the pork barrel scam.”

Syjuco filed a plunder complaint against Drilon with the Ombudsman last week accusing the Senate President of receiving kickbacks, rebates and commissions from his pork barrel as senator in the construction of the P200-million Iloilo Hall of Justice and the structure’s later retrofitting at a cost of P50 million.

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“They are all political harassments invented by certain quarters that are out to implicate my name in corruption and malfeasance,” Drilon said.

He said it all started with the Montblanc, which he is alleged to have received from pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles.

“Second, a graft case was filed against me by a former consultant who I fired for unauthorized postings using my Twitter account. Now, there is this unfounded plunder case that involved the construction of the Iloilo Hall of Justice, which happened two decades ago,” said Drilon.

The senator said Syjuco has been holding a grudge against him because he thought it was Drilon who had caused his defeat in the last election. Drilon had supported Syjuco’s rival, now Rep. Arcadio Gorriceta.

“To set the record straight, I had no involvement in the construction of the Iloilo Hall of Justice because the fund was coursed through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) central office. I was told the project was aboveboard, there was proper bidding, and there was nothing illegal and anomalous about the project, which was completed in 1992,” said Drilon.

The Iloilo Hall of Justice, he explained, had to undergo an extensive evaluation after a devastating 6.9-magnitude earthquake that hit the Visayas region, including Iloilo, in 2002. But the analysis made by the experts hired by the DPWH central office said that the building was structurally sound and only needed retrofitting works and minor repairs.

The senator claimed that the P50-million budget for retrofitting was not sourced from his 2012 Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel. It was the DPWH that funded the retrofitting, he claimed.

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“The arguments raised by Syjuco in his complaints are mere speculations and hearsays. The Ombudsman should act on his complaint as soon as possible so as to clear my name before the public,” Drilon said.

Drilon said Syjuco himself is facing a number of graft cases before the Sandiganbayan for alleged overpricing of supplies when he was director general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).

“Syjuco is masquerading as an antigraft crusader when, on the contrary, he himself had been involved in various anomalous activities both as former Tesda director general and congressman, which was the main reason why the Ilonggos rejected him last election,” he said.

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TAGS: Augusto Syjuco Jr., Franklin Drilon, plunder charge, Politics, Senate
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