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Evardone keeps mum on Palace 'cash gifts'

November 9, 2007 2:46pm
After claiming to be the source of money given away in Malacanang on Oct. 11, a leader of the League of Provinces has tightened his lips following a lawmaker’s admission that those distributed to House members came from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s political party.

Radio dzBB reported Friday afternoon that Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone refused to talk about the issue as he hosted President Arroyo in his province.

The report said Evardone refused to comment on recent developments regarding the cash gift, including Rep. Amelita Villarosa's admission she gave cash gifts to two lawmakers and that the money was drawn from President Arroyo's Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi).

Less than three weeks ago, Evardone, secretary general of the League of Provinces of the Philippines, said his group still plans to distribute even more money to other governors in the coming weeks.

"May ibibigay kami sa susunod na linggo tig-P500,000 (We'll still distribute P500,000 each to governors in the coming weeks)," Evardone said in an interview on dzBB radio on Oct. 24.

Evardone did not name the governors, but noted the league has 81 members representing all 81 provinces of the country.

He admitted that the group gives out money to governors through checks but gave cash to neophyte governors Ed Panlilio of Pampanga and Joselito Mendoza of Bulacan on Oct. 11 because there was no time to prepare checks for them.

"Normally check 'yan. Biglaan kasi ang nangyari sa Malacañang dahil nagkataon nandoon si Gov. Panlilio at Mendoza. Ang secretariat gumawa ng paraan para bigyan sa kanila (Normally we give out the money in checks. But the meeting at Malacañang was hastily called and Panlilio and Mendoza happened to be there. The secretariat found a way to give the money to them)," he said.

The money was given to Panlilio and Mendoza in paper bags following their meeting in Malacañang. Evardone did not explain how the money was cleared through presidential guards.

Neither did Evardone explain why the league secretariat did not immediately ask Panlilio and Mendoza for receipts for the cash, or why the league – and Malacañang - kept quiet about the issue for almost two weeks. - GMANews.TV