President Aquino insists: ‘I am not a thief’



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Thursday 31 October 2013

Last update 31 October 2013 12:22 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

MANILA: Philippine President Benigno Aquino went on national television Wednesday to publicly declare that he was “not a thief” in an attempt to head off a growing corruption scandal that threatens to derail his political agenda.
In a rare, live address to the nation on TV and radio, Aquino defended hundreds of millions of dollars in government spending that has come under scrutiny as he lashed out at the opposition, saying they were stirring up controversy to divert attention from their own corruption scandal.
“The issue here is theft. I did not steal. Those who have been accused of stealing are those who are sowing confusion,” Aquino said.
“I have never stolen. I am not a thief. I am the one who goes after thieves,” he added.
Opposition figures and critics have recently attacked Aquino for his use of two controversial funds, the Disbursement Allocation Programme (DAP) and the President’s Social Fund, accusing him of using them to buy favours from legislators.
But Aquino countered that the opposition created the controversy after they failed to answer questions about their own alleged misuse of so-called “pork barrel” funds.
Aquino, who was elected in a landslide in 2010 running on an anti-corruption platform, defended his use of the special funds, insisting it was done legally, for urgent cases and for projects that benefited the country.
Public anger over government corruption has risen since a whistle-blower said in August that a businesswoman connived with opposition legislators to syphon off some 10 billion pesos ($230 million) from a special fund allocated to the pet projects of law-makers.
Massive street rallies have been held to condemn the alleged corruption while squabbling over the issue has dominated legislative sessions.
The woman, Janet Napoles, has since been arrested and the government is preparing graft charges against her and some legislators.
The Justice Department earlier this month, also sought to cancel the passports of three senior opposition senators and dozens of their aides, allies and suspected conspirators to keep them from fleeing abroad to escape charges.
The opposition said Aquino’s party is using the issue to “demonise” them and have charged that the president’s use of his special funds are no different from their “pork barrel” coffers.
“In the midst of all their extended counter-accusations hurled against me, not once have I heard them say: ‘I did not steal,’” Aquino said in response.
“If you think that this will stop me from going after you, if you think that you can divert the public’s attention, if you think you can get away with stealing from our countrymen, you have sorely underestimated me,” he warned.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: The government has banned the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for cooking at the holy sites during the Haj this year. Vice Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Mohammed bin Naif, interior minister and president of the Supreme Haj Committee,...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Health has launched a program to vaccinate all public and private sector workers on Haj duty this year.Launching the program at the ministry’s headquarters here on Thursday, Tarif Al-Ama, undersecretary for treatment services...
JEDDAH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal was briefed Thursday about Murooj Jeddah residential project, located in the eastern part of the governorate. Representatives of the Jeddah Development and Urban Regeneration Company, the executing company...
ANKARA: The Kingdom plans to highlight the country’s economic progress and influence globally at the meeting of G-20 Ministers of Labor and Employment here this week, said Mufrej Al-Haqabani, Saudi Arabia’s labor minister. In a statement to the Saudi...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Haj in Madinah has employed women workers for the first time.Six women have been employed to work only during the Haj season, on the orders of Bandar Hajjar, the Haj minister, said Mohammed Al-Bijawi, director of the ministry...
JUBAIL: The Educational Services Department of the Royal Commission for Jubail (RCJ), represented by Al-Rowad Smart Secondary School, has distributed iPad to all new students at the beginning of the new school year.Mohammed Al-Hajri, director of the...

Stay Connected

Facebook