President Benigno S. Aquino III signs into law Republic Act No. 10349 or the New AFP Modernization Act at the Rizal Hall of the Malacañan Palace on Tuesday (December 11). The Revised AFP Modernization Act provides Php75-billion for the first five years to boost the AFP’s capability upgrade program as it shifts from internal to external defense capability and institutionalizes the Defense System of Management (DSOM). (MNS Photo)

MANILA, Dec 13 (Mabuhay) – President Aquino sees nothing wrong with Cabinet members being at the House of Representatives as lawmakers voted on the reproductive health bill.

Aquino said that just like the bishops and priests who were there, members of the Cabinet, as citizens, have the right to witness the deliberations.

He added that they were also there to lend moral support to party-mates who supported the bill.

“Kayo yatang naglalabas nung mga ating obispo, ating kaparian, ating ibang mga organisasyon na araw-araw nandoon. Dumating ‘yung mga miyembro ng gabinete kong mamamayan rin ng Pilipinas na pwede naman sigurong mag-witness nitong makasaysayang botohan na ito and sasabihin sa isang araw na presensiya nila, intense ang lobbying? May karapatan rin naman sigurong ipadama sa kinatawan,” Aquino told reporters.

“At meron tayong mga kapartido, except for Secretary Lacierda, Butch Abad and Mar Roxas are or were officers of our party. May mga kapartido tayong nagsasabi ng mga pressures nila kung saan galing sa ibat-ibang sektor, at kung nag-led ng moral support ‘yung ating mga miyembro ng Gabinete, may mali ba?”

Aquino denied dangling the pork bark barrel as prize for legislators, saying the priority development assistance funds (PDAF) have been released even to RH opponents before the voting, which can be verified, he said, at the Department of Budget and Management website.

He appealed to critics to verify claims before making an accusation.

“I would invite you, and I will invite them to look at all of the websites and see when all of the releases had been done, and my understanding is everybody’s PDAF had been released long before the vote. And please observe also those who voted against it if they have not been given their PDAF,” Aquino said.

Baka puwedeng mag-appeal: Whenever we say something, we make it a point to ensure that what we’re saying is verified and correct. So may we ask anybody to do likewise and give us the courtesy of before accusing (to) just check on the available data.” (MNS)