Iloilo governor rallies behind Drilon

ILOILO, (PNA) — Gov. Arthur Defensor described as “preposterous” and “pure harassment” the various charges leveled against Senate President Franklin Drilon, particularly those involving the programs and projects that he initiated in the city and province of Iloilo.

“All that Senate President Drilon did was to look for funds for these projects. He had nothing to do with how these projects were implemented, and the accusations against him are preposterous and unfair,” Defensor said in a press release Wednesday.

“Instead, we should be thankful that he has been doing his best to bring in huge infrastructure projects in Iloilo,” he added.

“The value of the projects that he brought here are unprecedented.”

Defeated congressional candidate Augusto Syjuco has filed two separate graft charges against Drilon over the construction of the Iloilo Hall of Justice in 1992 and the 2006 purchase of land in Iloilo City that was used as a government relocation site.

Drilon was also accused of receiving “bribe” following the release of P100 million from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds used for various infrastructure projects in Iloilo, which is bidding to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in 2015.

Critics described the DAP as “bribe” because they were reportedly released for senators who voted for the conviction of former Chief Justice Renato Corona during the impeachment trial that was presided by then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

“Bribes are given to influence a decision but the DAP funds were released after the impeachment trial when the senators have already decided on the Chief Justice’s fate. In other words, there was no more decision to influence,” Defensor opined.

He said there is nothing wrong with making representations for funding, especially when the intent was to bankroll programs and projects that can result to more job opportunities and bring in investments.

“Aside from crafting laws, senators and congressmen lobby for funds so they can help their constituents. People elected them not necessary because of their lawmaking competence but primarily because of their capacity to help people,” the former House majority leader said.

“We Ilonggos are lucky that the third highest-ranking official of the Republic of the Philippines is from Iloilo. We should be proud of and thankful for Senate President Drilon,” Defensor said.

He added that Syjuco, in filing a case against the Senate President, simply wanted to get even at the Senate President whom he blamed for his loss in the congressional race in the second district of Iloilo against now Rep. Arcadio Gorriceta.