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Abad hits back at Napoles: Shameless lies

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—With President Aquino watching his back, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad on Wednesday went on the offensive, saying Janet Lim-Napoles missed her chance to finally tell the truth and instead came out with what he described as “blatant and shameless” lies in her much-awaited affidavit.

Abad said it was also possible that the real target was Aquino, but given his “high credibility,” Napoles ended up implicating officials close to the President.

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“One possible reason is my perceived closeness to the President and the fact that I lead the [Cabinet] cluster instrumental in driving the good governance initiatives and reforms of the President,” he told the Inquirer.

“What better way to discredit and undermine that key program than to implicate in a public funds abuse scandal its very head. There have been repeated attempts to undermine the President’s high credibility, but none has succeeded so far.”

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Abad flatly denied Napoles’ allegation that he had practically tutored her on how to go about channeling pork barrel allocations to nongovernment organizations.

“I have never dealt with Janet Lim-Napoles in any manner, much less through an agent or a middleman,” he said in a separate statement.

“It’s unfortunate that despite the countless opportunities she had to reveal the truth, Ms. Napoles resorted instead to blatant, shameless lying.”

“Her claims about me amount to deception of the sorriest caliber, holding up poorly to scrutiny and collapsing in the face of facts,” he added.

Abad went on: “What a disservice her statement is to the people who’ve been waiting to hear the truth all these months. But should we be surprised? Ms. Napoles’ history has made one thing clear to all of us: The Filipino people’s best interests mean nothing to her.”

Noting Napoles’ bid to turn state witness, he said she had tagged him as her “tutor” probably to “bolster her contention that she was innocent and was just being manipulated by powerful people.”

“How could she be mastermind then? That’s at the level of Napoles. It is also possible that there are elements who are using her and her affidavit [likely with her cooperation] to sow confusion and distraction,” he said in a text message.

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In the statement, Abad said he could not have had a “close professional relationship” with Napoles, as alleged in her affidavit, given that she had been “trying—with great effort, it appears—to make my acquaintance for years now.”

He said he had been told by employees at the Department of Budget and Management that Napoles had gone to his office in 2010 “in an attempt to introduce herself, but was unsuccessful in securing an appointment with me.”

The President on Tuesday downplayed the inclusion of Abad and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala in Napoles’ list of officials allegedly involved in the pork barrel scam.

For Abad in particular, Aquino cited the purported incongruence of his budget secretary’s “innovations” and reform programs under his administration, with the allegation that he had pocketed public funds through the Napoles racket.

“The bottom line is: If you’re a thief and you want to hide [your loot], Secretary Abad has done nothing but to make the process of budgeting more and more transparent,” the President had said.

“So instead of enlarging the pie [of money] that could be the source of corruption, it seems that he’s making things difficult for those who wish to steal.”

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TAGS: denials, Florencio Abad, Janet Lim Napoles, pork barrel scam
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