Monday, June 16, 2014

Alcala says he’s not willing to go to jail over Napolist, maintains innoncence

SCIENCE CITY OF MUNOZ, Nueva Ecija – “Why will I be willing to go to jail? I’m innocent.”

          Thus reacted Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala as he maintained his innocence over his inclusion in the so-called “Napolist.”

          Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of his visit at the central experiment station of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) here Monday afternoon, Alcala said he is not like Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. who earlier said he was willing to go to jail even if the legislator professed his own innocence in the  pork barrel scam.

          Asked if he would mouth Revilla’s statements contained in the latter’s privilege speech, Alcala replied: “I’m not willing to go to jail. I committed no sin. But I’m willing to face the charges that will be filed against me,” he said.

          Alcala made fun of the socalled Napolist, saying with the emergence of so many lists allegedly involved in the scam, the list now looks more like “pambalot ng tinapa (tilapia wrapper).”

          He stressed that he had  never dealt in any capacity with suspected “pork barrel” scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles in his long career in public service. “I am sure about myself that I never dealt with her, even during my incumbency as a congressman,” he said, referring to his twin terms in the House of Representatives as representative of his home province of Quezon.

          He said the supposed transactions happened between 2007 to 2009 when he was not yet the secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

          “Besides, the P10 billion involved not the DA but the Department of Agrarian Reform,” he said.

          Just the same, Alcala said he is ready to face any investigation related to the multi-million-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

He said an impartial probe, one which would rely on evidence, not innuendoes, would eventually establish his innocence.

He said  “it is hard to rebut allegations if these are not documented, if they consist only of scribbled words in some lists, if there are no specifics.”

Alcala recalled that when he became DA secretary, among his first official acts was to strictly implement austerity measures and to purge the list of non government organizations (NGOs) transacting business with the agency.

He said that this housecleaning has in fact , he said, led him to formally ask the Office of the Solicitor General and the Department of Justice to  file appropriate cases against KPMFI, a suspected Napoles NGO.

While admitting his being linked to the pork barrel scam  is an “unnecessary distraction, “ Alcala said he remains focused in his job of helping farmers produce enough affordable food to all Filipinos in partnership with other agencies and research institutions such as the PhilRice.

            Instead of a Napolist, he said he is busy on a different kind of list, one which tallies rice harvests and support given to farmers. – Manny Galvez

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