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PIA Press Release

PAGC investigates alleged Palace incident

Quezon City (18 October) -- A full-scale investigation by the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) into the alleged Oct. 11 incident at Malacanang is already underway as ordered by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last Friday yet, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said yesterday.

Bunye made the statement after the President authorized him to disclose to the media the ongoing PAGC probe of the alleged cash giving at Malacanang even as he maintained that no official Palace fund was released for that reported purpose.

He said the President ordered the probe Friday after learning through media reports that certain lawmakers and local officials have admitted receiving cash gifts when they attended separate meetings in Malacanang last Oct. 11, although the common denominator in all these accounts is that they do not know the source of the said funds.

Bunye noted that PAGC chairman Constancia de Guzman had already begun the probe a day after the alleged incident took place but was not authorized to disclose details of the investigation given the confidential nature of such PAGC investigations.

"The investigation will focus on who gave these supposed cash gifts to the congressmen and governors," Bunye said. "Nobody in Malacanang can just disburse or distribute any fund without the proper budgetary allocation and standard auditing procedures."

He noted that the reason that the President had not been commenting on the issue was because she had already ordered a thorough probe on this matter.

"President Arroyo wants the PAGC to find out who was the source of the funds and what he or she was doing at the Palace during an official function," Bunye added.

Bunye said the probe would also find out whether there was bribery involved and for what reason.

He noted that Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio himself and the other personalities who claimed they received cash all pointed out that what they had received were not bribes.

All of them also said they received the cash gifts but with no advice nor directive whatsoever about what they would do in exchange for the money.

As to claims that these alleged cash gifts were given to local chief executives and lawmakers to help push a supposed weak impeachment complaint against the President in Congress and thus, insulate her from further moves to topple her, Bunye said this was totally absurd and unnecessary.

Bunye said that it does not matter whether a weak or strong impeachment complaint is lodged against the President in the House of Representatives, because only 30 or so congressmen would support it, given the dominance of the administration-backed coalition in the chamber.

He pointed out that 80 votes are needed to allow the House to forward an impeachment complaint against the President to the Senate, which the opposition cannot achieve because it can only muster, at most, 30 votes. (OPS) [top]

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