MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino continues to stand behind one of his closest friends, Director General Joel Villanueva of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, who has been implicated in the pork barrel scam.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said Monday Aquino continued to trust Villanueva even if the Department of Justice was said to be preparing criminal charges against him.
“Yes,” Coloma replied in a press conference when asked if Aquino still trusted Villanueva.
But Coloma urged the public to await the official action of the DOJ on the next batch of personalities to be charged in the Office the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged misuse of the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund.
The National Bureau of Investigation is readying charges against Senator Gregorio Honasan and 10 others in what would constitute the third batch of cases to be filed in connection with the PDAF racket.
Also to be charged are businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, who allegedly masterminded the scam.
Aquino has been under fire for allegedly zeroing in on members of the opposition in the PDAF investigation. Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and Ramon Revilla Jr. were earlier indicted in the Sandiganbayan antigraft court.
Unlike the three senators, Villanueva is a member of the President’s Liberal Party and a member of his inner circle.
Aquino has been consistently praising the Tesda under Villanueva’s watch.
In his speech at the World Economic Forum on East Asia last month, the President made special mention of Villanueva when he cited his administration’s “strategic investments in education and skills training.”
Quoting Villanueva, he said 91 percent of Tesda scholars trained in the semiconductor industry had been employed.
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