Palace: Ex-Speaker is ‘no Singson’
MANILA, Philippines — Former House Speaker Jose de Venecia’s allegations against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are not enough to spark a political crisis and lead to her downfall the way former Ilocos Sur governor Luis “Chavit” Singson did to her predecessor, Joseph Estrada, Malacañang said Tuesday.
“We see him [De Venecia] as a witness [who] says one thing right now, and says one thing the following day,” Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez said, when asked if De Venecia could be likened to Singson.
“Wala naman pong kaba [There are no worries],” Golez said, adding that Arroyo would not have pushed through with her trip to Peru and Colombia had there been worries over the unfolding political events.
Arroyo is in Colombia for bilateral talks with President Alvaro Uribe after attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit in Lima, Peru.
De Venecia, a former staunch ally of Arroyo, had accused her of bribing lawmakers to support a weak impeachment complaint against her in 2007, and of pushing for the allegedly overpriced $329-million deal between the government and China’s ZTE Corp. for the botched national broadband network (NBN) project.
The NBN deal is among several charges in the latest impeach complaint against Arroyo, which was filed by, among others, De Venecia’s son, who lost in his bid for the contract.
In late 2000, Singson accused Estrada, his estranged drinking buddy, of pocketing millions in kickbacks from the illegal numbers game “jueteng” and calling the then president the “lord of all gambling lords.”
Singson’s allegations led to a botched impeachment trial that sparked a popular uprising that the military eventually backed, forced Estrada from power, and replaced him with Arroyo, then the vice president.
The former governor is now Arroyo’s deputy national security adviser. He lost his bid for a Senate seat in 2007.
“I think the Filipino people, they already have reached the level of maturity to look at things in an objective manner. We can see now that there is a process that needs to be followed and these processes are being respected,” Golez said.
He said De Venecia said in one statement that the alleged P500,000 bribe money was handed to him, while in another testimony, that it was placed on the table.
Golez added that De Venecia could be held criminally liable for accepting a bribe, but maintained that, contrary to the former Speaker’s allegation, the bribe did not come from Arroyo.
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