Itogon, Benguet (December 29, 2020) – House Appropriations chairman and Benguet caretaker representative Eric Yap on Tuesday chided PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica over supposed shotgun accusations against congressmen allegedly involved over corruption at the DPWH.
Yap holding a press conference at the posh private estate Alphaland in Itogon, Benguet Tuesday morning claimed Belgica lacked due diligence to probe. “Para sa akin Sir, hindi investigation kundi witch-hunting ang ginagawa nyo po,” he said in Filipino in obviously irate tone.
The Benguet caretaker congressman who took over in January 27, 2019 after former Benguet lawmaker Nestor Fongwan Sr. succumbed to illness on December 2019 said he only became caretaker when almost all (infrastructure projects) biddings in Benguet were finished.
He though thanked Belgica for naming names (on his corruption accusations) this time “because without names drags the Congress as an institution and is unfair for the institution which is even older than us,” he continued in Filipino.
“At least pinangalanan ako now, kase kung hindi mo papangalanan, ang institusyon ang sisirain mo! Hinding-hindi ako makakapayag na sisirain mo pangalan ng Kongreso para sa pagco-cover-up lung anong meron sa duty-free Phiippines.”
Yap is tracing Belgica’s beef against him when on October 29 over a radio interview cropped up the issue of Belgica on Duty-free Philippines mess.
On January next year when Congress opens, Yap said he will file a resolution to investigate what is in there at Duty-free Phiippines. It will be in aid of legisltation, the lawmaker reiterated, adding, “at dun ipapakita ko ke Commissioner Belgica kung gaano kapatas ang pag-iimbestiga.”
This in aid of a future law where the PACC who is investigating is not dragged into the anomaly, Yap added. “Hindi pwede (sa inyong imbestigasyon) na one side lang kukunin mo.”
Yap also blamed local politics in Benguet for Belgica’s accusations against him. He said for several Congresses, Benguet only got the crumbs of government aid unlike now when he became the province’s caretaker.
Aspirants for congressman in Benguet are threatened, he said. “Gusto ko lang ipayo sa mga nag-aaspire tumakbong congressman, mahalin nyo po ang ating probinsya, gawin nyo po ang lahat para sa ating probinsya.”
He though said he is taking the accusations against him as a grain of salt to do more for Benguet until the end of his term in 2022. “Bawat iabato nilang putik, dodoblehin ko po ang serbisyo,” he also vowed in Filipino.
Yap though assured that come May 2020, he would not seek election anymore but rest in the province where he had called it his home. “I am a son of Benguet, I will die here in Benguet. “If I am found guilty, I will resign as ACT-CIS representative and including my chairmanship of the Appropriations committee and as caretaker representative.”
Former Ifugao lawmaker Teodoro Baguilat Jr., who was also tagged among the members of Congress who were involved in the DPWH corruption has not been available for comment while the Liberal Party where he is a recognized party leader said it is fully backing the integrity of their members tagged in the alleged corruption list.
While infrastructure think-tank Infrawatch PH said the President’s revelation “couched with caveats may ultimately diminish the integrity of his administration’s anti-corruption effort, especially if the accusations are proven to be false.”
Lawyer Terry Ridon, InfrawatchPH convenor said, “this may be no more than a witch hunt for specific personalities rather than systemically plugging opportunities for corruption in infrastructure projects.”
Ridon also warned that the naming of those supposedly involved in corruption without proper vetting could be used as a tool against political enemies.
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