PHILIPPINE Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon said he is “willing and ready” to face allegations against him after he was named as one of 37 individuals charged with malversation of public funds in relation to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
Biazon was in the second batch and one of seven former congressmen charged in a case filed by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Nov. 29 before the Office of the Ombudsman.
The former Muntinlupa representative also ran for the Senate in 2010 but lost. He was a candidate of the Liberal Party.
Biazon was alleged to have pocketed a kickback of P1.95 million through a P2.7-million Special Allotment Release Order he issued for the Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc, a non-government organization (NGOs) linked to businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged pork scam mastermind.
The individuals were charged with malversation, bribery, and graft and corrupt practices, as the amount involved was way below the P50 million threshold for plunder.
De Lima noted the complaints covered only PDAF misuse from 2007 to 2009 because documents from these years were easily accessible due to Commission on Audit’s special report. She said the Department of Justice is still gathering documents outside that period.
She added it was not for her to say if Biazon would take a leave from his customs post pending his case. “(The complaint) has no effect yet on his incumbency because, just like the first batch of PDAF complaints, it will first pass the Office of the Ombudsman and will be assessed by a team there before it will go to preliminary investigation.”
In a statement, Biazon said, “Accounting for public funds comes with the territory of serving in government, whether it be at the lowest levels of local government or in the high levels of national office.”
“Therefore, I am willing and ready to face the allegations raised today pertaining to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocated to my congressional district during my term as representative of the lone district of Muntinlupa.”
“I had always exercised prudence and fidelity in the performance of my duty as representative of Muntinlupa as well as in other responsibilities to the public, and pursued projects and programs that benefitted my constituents. But, as we have seen in some instances, the processes involved have been vulnerable to abuse by certain parties.”
However, he said he needs to “see the documents pertinent to this issue, but I welcome the opportunity to clarify and answer the accusations whether before the National Bureau of Investigation, the Office of the Ombudsman or the courts”, he concluded.
Incumbent Muntinlupa representative and Biazon’s father, Rodolfo Biazon, said he is confident his son will make it through this case.
Charged along with the younger Biazon were seven former congressmen, two agents of congressmen, three heads of implementing agencies, seven employees of implementing agencies, 12 resident auditors of agencies, Napoles, and two presidents of Napoles’ non-government offices.
The first batch of cases filed three months ago involved 38 individuals– including Senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Ramon Revilla Jr, and five other former congressmen, as well as lawmakers’ staff.––Roumina M. Pablo
Photo from ruffybiazon.blogspot.com