Lacierda: Roxas is honest, won’t spend public money for campaign
MALACAÑANG on Wednesday assured the public that the administration will not use the 2016 budget to support its allies in the 2016 national elections.
“I can tell you categorically we will not use the 2016 budget for the 2016 elections,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a Palace briefing.
Earlier, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate called on Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, the ruling Liberal Party’s presidential candidate, to explain where he was getting his funds for early campaigning.
He said Roxas has been guesting on morning television shows while his advertisements have also been aired.
“Fifteen seconds on a primetime commercial spot can go upward from P250,000, while 30 seconds on TV can go upward from half a million. His TV placements early in the game make questioning his fund sources a valid point,” Zarate said.
He raised the possibility of taxpayers’ money being spent for Roxas’ presidential campaign.
But Lacierda said Roxas has been known for his integrity. He recalled President Benigno Aquino III’s speech during Roxas’ endorsement. The President revealed that Roxas, who was then Trade Secretary, prohibited his family from entering the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, which his agency has been supporting.
“Has he ever been accused of using government funds for a campaign?” he said. “Secretary Mar Roxas has never used his position to advance a gain for his own family.”
“In his 20 years of public service, he has never been tainted with corruption. He has always maintained his integrity. That’s also the statement of the President in his endorsement speech, and nobody has ever questioned him on his integrity, nobody has ever questioned him in his experience,” he said.
Instead, Lacierda hit back and questioned Bayan Muna for focusing on Roxas despite other aspirants airing their own political advertisements. He asked the group if it is siding with a particular individual or party.
“What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander?” he asked.
Lawyer Rico Quicho, spokesperson of Vice President Jejomar Binay, also suggested that the P303 billion in government savings from the fiscal year 2014 could be used by the LP for the 2016 electoral campaign.
He said the Aquino administration asked for P2.4 trillion in 2014 but 13 percent or P303 billion was left untouched.
“Why didn’t they ‘accelerate’ the release of funds last year? And why release the funds in the second half of this year? Palpak na, kahina-hinala pa ang ginagawa,” (They are not only utterly incompetent. What they are doing is also highly suspicious),” Quicho said in a statement.
Lacierda, on the other hand, said Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad has answered such allegations.
“You’re using the same arguments over and over again…’ But President Aquino has already mentioned we didn’t use the 2013 budget for the midterm elections. So I can tell you categorically that we’re not going to use the 2016 budget for the 2016 elections,” Lacierda said.
The Secretary insisted that the Aquino administration has been transparent.
He said the government has been able to save money because of efficiency.