“Nepotism in government reflects the situation of our country where power and wealth are concentrated in the hands of a few elite families. It’s time to rise up against the kamag-anak, corrupt government of Aquino.” – Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Progressive youth group Anakbayan called for the resignation of Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad on allegations of nepotism and for being implicated in the pork barrel scam.
“Contrary to what Malacañang is saying, having many Abads in office is bad. This is evidence that under this administration, nepotism is rampant. The Aquino administration is a kamag-anak [relatives] government,” Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan national chairman, said.
News reports revealed that there are 11 relatives of Secretary Abad currently holding positions in the government. They include Abad’s wife Batanes representative and vice chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee Rep. Henedina Abad, daughter Julia, head of the Presidential Management Staff, son Luis, chief of staff of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, as well as Abad’s four nephews, one niece, and two first cousins occupying various government posts.
An article revealed that Secretary Abad, in his 2013 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, merely declared nine relatives in government service and his son Luis was not even listed.
Abad is being accused by Janet Lim-Napoles of being her mentor on how to divert funds from the pork barrel of lawmakers.
Malacañang, meanwhile, was quick to defend Secretary Abad.
“I think it’s not to say that just because you are an Abad [it is already tantamount to nepotism], considering that they are in various levels of the bureaucracy. Not all of them are Cabinet secretaries—only two of them are Cabinet secretaries,” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda was quoted as saying in the same article.
Aside from Abad, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. also have declared that they have relatives working in the government. Paje declared nine relatives; Petilla has seven declared relatives, while Purisima and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. declared five relatives.
“This is evidence that there are a few powerful families under the wing of Aquino who are dominating the government. These officials should resign in shame,” said Crisostomo.
Benjie Valbuena, national president of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), slammed Aquino for claiming that he is against corruption. “His (Aquino) claim that he is against corruption seems to be just a gimmick as many of those implicated in the pork barrel scam are his allies, friends and some even works for him in the Cabinet. Will a leader against corruption allow corrupt people to work with him? I guess the answer is clear, corrupt officials will only work with fellow corrupt officials,” he said.
“Our demand for salary increase is being dismissed easily by the Aquino administration, on the claim that there are no funds to cover the cost of the increase and that it will result in a budget deficit. No money for teachers, but billions are there for his friends and allies (which includes Alcala and Abad) to put in their pockets. Secretary Alcala seems to have converted the entire agriculture department into a big milking cow as most of the projects involved in the pork barrel scandal went through the department. Ang kapal ng mukha n’yang gawin ito samantalang namamatay na sa gutom at hirap ang mga magsasaka (You have the gall to do this while farmers are dying because of hunger and poverty),” Valbuena said.
He added, “Maybe the reason why Abad is against our demand for a salary increase is that he is afraid that the fund he wanted to corrupt would be lessened.”
Crisostomo said Aquino himself benefits from nepotism. “That’s why his administration defends and justifies the existence of nepotism. Nepotism in government reflects the situation of our country where power and wealth are concentrated in the hands of a few elite families. It’s time to rise up against the kamag-anak, corrupt government of Aquino.”