I do not know if Butch Abad has become corrupt. But I did know him to be an upright and honorable man.
I’ve known Butch for about 30 years now. As an original member of the Liberal Party, I had the pleasure of meeting him as the party’s official candidate for Congressman in the lone district of Batanes. If I’m not mistaken, I first met him in the residence of my grand uncle, Former Senate President Jovito Salonga. My Ka Jovy introduced him as a stalwart of the party. Apparently, his father before him was also a big man within the party.
I also knew him when as a law student; I worked as a legislative staff officer for another LP member of Congress. During the 8th Congress and when he was a loyal lieutenant to Ka Jovy, he had a reputation for integrity and probity. I remember Butch lost his Committee Chairmanship when he refused to join the LDP bandwagon. That made me respect him even more.
I would then have close encounters with him and his wife Dinah when during the Presidential Elections of 1992, Butch ran for the Senate. I was then in the very lonely and cash-strapped campaign of Ka Jovy for President. There were many nights when, had it not been for the kindness of Butch and his wife; I would have spent many nights literally in the sidewalks of the country. Butch and his wife personally paid for many nights of my lodging all over the country.
But it was not just his generosity in times of need that made me respect Butch. He was a man of principles, a firm believer in justice, and yes, of unimpeachable integrity. I am one of those utterly shocked that his name would now be dragged into this latest pork barrel scandal with his name surfacing prominently in the affidavit of Janet Lim Napoles, Benhur Luy’s files, as well as the lists of Ping Lacson, Sandra Cam and Leila De Lima.
Janet’s affidavit is particularly damning for Butch. According to her, it was Butch, when he was then a Congressman, who taught her that PDAF funds could be funneled and laundered through bogus NGO’s.
While Janet’s word should not be taken as gospel truth, what bothers me is that under the rules of evidence, a positive assertion is always stronger than a negative one. This means that Janet’s narration of how she learned the ropes for her infamy, and her account of how in at least two instances she paid off Butch is stronger than any of the denials that Butch has been making and will make in the future.
I must admit that I’ve lost touch with Butch right after the Salonga Presidential debacle. I do not know if he changed since then. I saw him again when he was campaign manager for then Senatoriable Benigno Aquino III. I was then fiercely anti-PGMA (which I do not regret even if I remain outside the kulambo today) and was a volunteer at the Team Unity’s mid-term Senatorial elections with Senator Serge Osmeña as campaign manager. I distinctly remember having a conversation with him in Intramuros during the LP’s proclamation event. I remember him complaining about lack of funding for then Senatoriable Noynoy since many of the campaign donors dare not risk arousing the ire of then PGMA by supporting candidate Aquino. Prior to his Senate run, I knew PNoy because of the three-impeachment complaints that I drafted and filed against PGMA. Strangely enough, I do not recall Butch, nor many of those in the cabinet of PNoy today, to have been active in the struggle against PGMA. Oh yes, lest I forget, at least 75% of those in PNoy’s cabinet today were with PGMA during those exciting times!
So actually, I do not know what to think about Butch nowadays.
But what I do know is: one, he has to explain his side very well, giving good reasons why Janet would lie against him; and two, present contradicting evidence against the damning testimony of both Janet and Benhur.
It does not help Butch that the warring Napoles and Luy have consistently pointed the accusing finger against him, Worse, it does not bode well for Butch that his boss has been dismissive of the assertions against him if only because this attitude sends the message that Malacañang will sweep his culpability, if any, under the rug. At this point, what Butch needs is a venue to clear his name. If his boss PNoy really cares for him, he will facilitate an impartial and credible investigation on the accusations against him. Anything short of this will have the stench of cover-up.
The best going for Butch is that until now, he and his family have had a good and untainted name. It bodes well for him too that people will remember him risking life and limb against the Marcos dictatorship, and being a trusted and loyal ally to Mr. Clean himself, Jovy Salonga. As Ka Jovi lies now fighting for his last breath, perhaps, it is but apropos that Butch, being one of his favorites, clear his name. Mr. President, please help him in this regard.