Former Sen. Joker Arroyo on Sunday accused Malacañang of attempting to deceive the public by lumping him together with 19 senators who received additional pork barrel amounting to P1.107 billion (S$32 million) a few months after the Senate voted to convict then Chief Justice Renato Corona last year.
Arroyo found it strange that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad would now claim that the former senator's office received P47 million worth of projects in February, eight months after Corona was ousted by the Senate sitting as an impeachment court.
Along with Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Arroyo voted to acquit Corona of charges of betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution for dishonesty in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.
"The accusation that Malacañang 'rewarded' the senators who voted to convict (Corona) puts Malacañang on a slippery slope, placing the charge of at least impropriety, if not outright bribery, right at the presidential doorstep," he said.
Of the 20 senators who voted to convict Corona, only then Sen. Panfilo Lacson did not accept the additional pork from the executive larder, according to Abad. Two of the three senators who voted to acquit Corona- Marcos and Santiago-got nothing, Abad said.
Arroyo called the Inquirer to deny the claim of the budget secretary that his office received P47 million worth of projects from the so-called Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
"These allocations, amounting to P47 million, were amendments introduced in the General Appropriation Act (GAA) of 2013 and not PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) by any language," Arroyo said.
Arroyo has claimed that he did not use his PDAF allocations during his two terms as senator and earlier as Makati representative.
He disclosed that the P47 million was secured under the GAA and went directly to the Department of Education to fund the construction of school buildings in three Bicol state colleges, and the rest to state-run hospitals for medical assistance to indigents. The Inquirer tried but failed to get any comment from Malacañang officials.
In speaking out against the Palace, Arroyo finally ended his self-imposed silence since his second consecutive term as senator expired in June. A human rights lawyer, he had served as executive secretary of President Aquino's mother, Corazon, but was not in speaking terms with Aquino even when both were still senators.