CODE-NGO, the non-government organization that earned P1.4 billion in commissions from the controversial Peace Bonds, sought to deflect criticism on Friday by linking the attacks against it to deposed President Joseph Estrada.
Sixto Donato Macasaet, the group’s executive director, said he was surprised that Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who has led the calls for an investigation of the bonds, was an ally of President Benigno Aquino III.
“I did not know that Congressman Rufus is an Aquino ally. I thought he was closer to Erap [Estrada],” Macasaet said.
“I just know that Rufus was the Immigration Commissioner of Erap and also his lawyer.”
Rodriguez, a member of the majority in the House, along with his brother Abante Mindanao Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr., filed House Resolution 58, which seeks to investigate the Peace bonds to find out if the government was defrauded and if Code-NGO was given preferential treatment over other organizations.
“I am a member of the majority. I am not a member of the opposition,” Rodriguez said in response.
“Let us not muddle the issue. We are after accounting and transparency here. Estrada had nothing to do with the probe. I haven’t even talked to him or met him for a long time now. I haven’t discussed this issue with him or with his son Senator Jinggoy Estrada.
“Let us stick to the issue. Where did the P10 billion go? Who received the money and who benefited from the bond float that next year would be paid for by taxpayers for P35 billion?”
Macasaet would not elaborate on Estrada’s role in the House probe, but other sources said Macasaet was referring to the word war between Senator Estrada and now fugitive Senator Panfilo Lacson Jr.
Months before he fled the country, Lacson delivered a privilege speech denouncing Estrada’s alleged abuse of power when he was President, saying he pressured Alfonso Yuchengco of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. into selling his shares in Philippine Telecommunications Investment Corp. to Metro Pacific under its president Manuel Pangilinan.
Senator Estrada responded at the time by saying Yuchengco was among those who had also benefited from the Arroyo government, citing his bank’s underwriting of the Peace Bond float.
Christine Herrera, Manila Standard Today