MANILA (Mabuhay) – Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is ready to resign as House speaker if allegations that lawmakers received bribes from a Chinese fugitive to vote in favor of the Bangsamoro Basic Law are proven true.
“If there is even one centavo na nanggaling dun sa sinasabing (payola) which is a complete lie, I am ready to step down and resign as speaker,” Belmonte said.
He was referring to a report by the Standard daily stating that Malacañang used P440 million from alleged Chinese criminal Wang Bo to bribe House members to approve the controversial bill.
“This is an absolute lie. In so far as trying to connect it to the BBL or House, 100 percent lie yan kaya nga sabi ko I’m willing to resign if there is any truth to that,” the House leader said.
“On absolutely no basis whatsoever, idinamay yung House. Sasabihin isang trak ng pera dadalhin dun e meron pang tao dun, tignan mo naman how ridiculous that is tapos unnamed source kaya minabuti ko na paimbestigahan na yan,” he added.
Belmonte said the House committee on good governance, headed by Pampanga Rep. Oscar Rodriguez, will start its inquiry into the matter on Tuesday.
He said that he will be represented in the probe by Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez.
Rep. Romualdez is the owner of the Standard and is president of the Lakas-CMD party.
“Since I, as a Speaker, can have a proxy, I named Martin Romualdez (to represent me). Ang sabi ko ilabas ninyo lahat diyan kung ano ang nalalaman nyo,” he said.
Asked if he already talked with Romualdez, Belmonte said the Leyte representative did not pick up his phone but he already told the lawmaker’s staff about it.
He said he wanted the accusation to be investigated “for the good of all.”
“Para malaman natin who is lying, who is not lying, who concocted the story, iyon lahat na yon. Kailangan naming malaman kung paano nagsimula ang rumor na yun, sino ang gumamit sa pangalan namin, sino ang gumamit sa pangalan ng Liberal Party without their knowledge, without any knowledge and definitely no sancton from any of us. Gusto kong lumabas yun dun,” Belmonte, who is one of the vice chairmen of the Liberal Party, said.
He added Bureau of Immigration commissioners named in the Standard report will also be invited to allow them to give their version of the story.
“Dito kasi sa atin kahit na anong sabihin mo may naniniwala kaya sabi ko let’s go ahead and have it investigated. We just want to bring it all out for the sake of our own members. To assure everybody that we are all acting aboveboard, none of them is being questioned, and nobody has any right to question their integrity,” he said.
On Thursday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima quizzed Immigration Associate Commissioners Abdullah Mangotara and Gilbert Repizo on the alleged bribery.
She said the Department of Justice has yet to determine whether it will investigate the two, but added she advised them to be ready to answer questions at the House probe. (MNS)