GMA orders probe on bribery

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — NO sacred cows.

Thus assured President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as she ordered yesterday the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) for a thorough probe on the reported bribery of solons and local executives in Malacañang after the breakfast caucus last Thursday in connection with the third impeachment complaint against her.

The President issued the order as she ignored the political controversies focusing on her governance.

Yesterday, the President led the 28th Lanzones festival in Mambajao, Camiguin.

Other activities of the President include observance of the National Week of Overcoming Extreme Poverty, inauguration of the Esperanza Community Hospital, Caraga Conference for the Peace and Development and the lst Anniversary Celebration and Local Peace and Security Assembly in Almont Hotel Inland Resort in Butuan City.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye assured that “a finding on the controversy is forthcoming” shortly to clear the air.

Bunye admitted that the President is concerned with the turn of events which is taking the Palace hostage to the controversy.

The Palace official said that the PAGC headed by chairperson Constancia de Guzman is mandated to find the responsible persons behind the reported bribery and distribution of dole outs.

Also, presidential political adviser and Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ronaldo Puno said that the Palace is ready to file appropriate charges before the Ombudsman against the culprits once a solid case has been build up already.

Puno clarified that the probe has been ordered by the President for PAGC several hours after the report was exposed in media last Oct.11.

Puno also downplayed threats of the political opposition about a possible ouster of Mrs. Arroyo with the third impeachment in the wake of cracks in the ruling coalition.

He reiterated the Palace stance on the issue, belying knowledge about the source of the money ranging from P200,000 to P500,000 which were distributed as dole outs to solons and local executives.

Puno stressed that the President remains to be secure in her seat at the Palace until her tenure on 2010.

He referred to the new impeachment complaint against her.

“The support of solons and local executives notably the 81 governors nationwide to Mrs. Arroyo is just overwhelming and resounding,” Puno said.

He said there is no support problem for the President, only communication problem.

Bunye said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines remain loyal to the chain of command and loyal to their commander in chief.

Puno lamented that controversy has been blown out of proportions.

He dismissed any need for a change of leadership in the House, pointing out the report of tension between the President and Speaker Jose De Venecia is just “simply all talks.”

He brushed aside talks about a fall out between the President and the Speaker including the bribery as rumors innuendos and unjustified allegations.

De Venecia earlier called for the need for moral regeneration as he dared the President to sack corrupt officials, pointing out he would be constrained to start severing ties with her in case there would be no change in her governance.