MANILA, Philippines – Ang Galing Pinoy Rep. Mikey Arroyo hit Malacañang yesterday for employing double standards in its “quest for truth” after administration officials were seen as shielding two Cabinet secretaries from the Truth Commission for their alleged involvement in the allegedly anomalous P10-billion Poverty Eradication and Alleviation Certificate (PEACe) Bonds in 2001.
Arroyo, eldest son of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said it was improper for presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda to clear Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman and Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles of any wrongdoing in the issuance of the PEACe Bonds which was spearheaded by the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (Code-NGO).
Soliman and Deles, reportedly prime movers of Code-NGO, are alleged to have benefitted from the P10-billion PEACe Bond issue, reportedly netting a windfall profit of over P1 billion tax-free.
“Sen. Edgardo Angara’s call to investigate both Secretaries Soliman and Deles is justified. And coming from a statesman like Sen. Angara, who is himself allied with the new administration, I honestly believe his act is highly commendable,” Arroyo said in a statement.
He said Angara’s call for the Truth Commission to include in its investigation other officials including those in the present administration, aside from the former president, is in line with the constitutional provision of fair play.
“However, what disturbs me a lot is Secretary Lacierda clearing both Secretaries Soliman and Deles of any wrongdoing even if a formal investigation on the allegation has yet to start. It is like putting the cart before the horse,” he said.
The other day Lacierda was quoted as saying that revisiting this issue would not matter since several hearings conducted by Congress in the past found no evidence to incriminate Soliman and Deles in PEACe Bond controversy.
“Let me state that several hearings have already been conducted in the past and Secretary Dinky Soliman has always stated – and the truth has borne her out – that she was never involved in the Code-NGO bonds,” Lacierda told Palace reporters, adding the same principle applies to Deles.
However, when asked if the same standard would also apply to Mrs. Arroyo, Laierda replied in the negative, saying the former president, who hurdled four impeachment attempts, were cleared by her allies, whom he claimed obviously ruled in her favor.
“Secretary Lacierda claims President Arroyo was cleared by Congress composed mainly of allies of the former president. But then, the very people who cleared President Arroyo were also the ones whom Secretary Lacierda says cleared Secretaries Soliman and Deles,” Arroyo said.
“If he questions the credibility of Congress in clearing former President Arroyo, then he should also question its credibility when it cleared Secretaries Soliman and Deles. From whatever point of view you are on, you can say this is clearly a double standard in terms of judgment,” he said.
Arroyo said by declaring the two secretaries were never involved in the PEACe Bond scandal, Lacierda is already making his own judgment.
“And since when has it become the function of the Palace to act as a judge and executioner?” he said.
He said submitting both Soliman and Deles for investigation by the Truth Commission would not automatically mean the two secretaries are guilty.
“Why is the Palace so apprehensive in submitting Secretaries Soliman and Deles for investigation by the Truth Commission? Wouldn’t this administration be doing a great service for the two by giving them a chance to clear their names once and for all?” Arroyo said.
He said what is important is that by submitting both Soliman and Deles for investigation, the Palace can project an image of transparency and fairness.
Paolo Romero, Philippine Star