Press Release
December 10, 2006


Although President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has already withdrawn her support to the Constituent Assembly being pushed by administration congressmen led by Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr., she owes it to the public to explain her reported distribution of cash gift to governors and mayors from Western Visayas during a visit to Iloilo City last week, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) said today.

Pimentel cited newspaper reports that the President gave P20,000 to P30,000 to each mayor and P50,000 to each governor when she met with them in a hotel in Iloilo City last Dec.7.

The local chief executives received the money after they signed a manifesto of support for amending the Constitution through a constituent assembly.

Pimentel said the alleged gift-giving could not be concealed or brushed aside by the Palace just like that because some of the mayors themselves confirmed that it really happened.

He said the President should reveal to the public where she got the money from.

If she got it from the general appropriations act, she should state what provisions justifies it. If she got it from her emergency funds, she should state how the distribution of the money to governors and mayors is validly done, the minority leader said.

If she got the money from private sources, all the more she should say so and identify the donor or donors and for what purpose it was given.

Pimentel said that if the money was given in exchange for the endorsement of the Charter Change by the governors and mayors, this is legally improper and tantamount to bribery.

All this adds up to misgovernment, misuse of funds and probably even bribery for which unfortunately the highest official of the lands appears to be culpable, he said.

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