Palace: Biazon still has trust of the President

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Saturday, November 30, said the President still has full trust and confidence in Customs chief Rosanno Rufino "Ruffy" Biazon even as he had been accused of misusing his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) during his term as Muntinlupa representative.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio "Sonny" Coloma Jr said in a radio interview there was no indication to the contrary, and that the stay of an appointive official depends not only on the trust and confidence of the President, but also on the desire of the appointee to stay on.

On Friday, November 29, the second batch of complaints related to the pork barrel scam was filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) before the Office of the Ombudsman, which included a complaint of malversation, bribery, and graft and corrupt practices against Biazon. (READ: Customs chief, 33 others in PDAF case)

Quick to react hours after the filing, Biazon said he is “willing and ready to face the allegations.” (READ: Biazon: I'm ready to face allegations)

This is on top of the controversies in Biazon's graft-ridden Bureau of Customs (BOC), where reorganizations and reforms continue after President Benigno Aquino III in his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) singled it out and two other government agencies for alleged incompetence and corruption. (READ: Aquino shames customs bureau)

Coloma said the President's SONA and the reforms in Customs that followed is different in context from the case filed against Biazon.

Kaya iyan po ang dynamics niyan. Ang sinasabi ko lang po iyong reyalidad na noong nakaraan, maraming naging tanong hinggil diyan sa context po noong binanggit ng Pangulo sa SONA at iyong naganap na mga reporma. So iyon pong kontekstong iyon, hindi po kasali doon iyong most recent development na naganap po kahapon na nagkaroon ng pagsasampa ng kaso. Kaya nililinaw ko po ang konteksto dahil mahalaga po iyon," Coloma said.

(That is the dynamics there. What I'm saying is the reality that in the past, there were many questions on the context of the President's SONA and the reforms that happened. That context does not include the most recent development that happened yesterday when a case was filed. I'm clarifying the context because that is important.)

No special treatment

And despite his allies getting dragged into the controversy – with Biazon being the first party mate to face charges – Coloma said the President had been consistent in his stand against the pork barrel scam.

"Wala naman pong pagbabago sa paninindigan ng Pangulo hinggil diyan. Mula pa po noong unang lumutang ang isyu na ito, ang pananaw po ng Pangulo ay ito: Let the evidence point to the direction of the inquiry.  Wala naman pong special treatment para kanino man; wala pong hindi kasali doon sa patas at makatarungang proseso ng batas. Kaya ganoon pa rin po ang pananaw ng ating Pangulo.”

(There is no change in the position of the President. Even before the issue surfaced, the President's view has always been this: Let the evidence point to the direction of the inquiry. There is no special treatment for anyone; there is no exception in the fair and just process of law. The view of the President is still the same.)

Aquino reportedly told Palace officials he will discuss the issue with Biazon.

As for any buzz on Biazon leaving his post, Coloma said they have not received any information on the matter, but added that while the Ombudsman reviews and evaluates the complaint, “there is no legal compulsion" for the Customs chief to vacate his post.

"Iyong delicadeza po kasi ay indibidwal na desisyon (Delicadeza is an individual decision)," Coloma said. – Jee Geronimo/Rappler.com