By Hannah Torregoza
Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for defending him against allegations he is involved in the so-called pork barrel fund scam that hounded the former Aquino administration.
Drilon, in a statement, said he is grateful that the Chief Executive has expressed his respect for him and that he “considers me a friend.”
“We thank the President for his statement that I have his respect and he considers me a friend,” Drilon said in a statement.
“In fact, I remain grateful for, and acknowledge, the support the President gave me, as mayor of Davao City, in all my election campaigns,” the senator added.
“I hope we remain friends. He has my full respect,” he also said.
In his departure speech, the President was quoted saying: “Senator Drilon, if I talked to somebody urging a case against you sa PDAF, bring that person in my presence and I will resign because you are my friend…”
“Ikaw kasi, kaibigan kita noon pa, nirerespeto kita, and I told you before in front of so many congressmen, sinabi ko na wala akong ginagawa against you,” Duterte also said.
Drilon said that if he ever had disputed with the President, it was always “on matters of policy.”
“I would like to clarify that if I had disagreements with the President, it is always on matters of policy,” the minority leader said.
“I have never attacked the President on a personal level,” he added.
He also said he had never said that the President “talked to anyone to file a case against me, or anything to that effect.”
Janet Lim-Napoles, in an interview over state-run DZRB radio station, told broadcaster Erwin Tulfo that the lawmaker received millions of pesos in campaign donations from her during the 2010 May elections.
Napoles is the primary accused in the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) during the Aquino administration.
Palace spokesperson Harry Roque said Drilon is not exempted from investigations against corruption.
Drilon has denied receiving funds from Napoles saying his Statement of Contributes and Expenditures (SOCE) has been filed at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and is open for scrutiny.