COA confirmed 'pork' whistleblowers, lawyer says

Posted at 01/20/14 10:01 PM

MANILA (UPDATED) - The lawyer of the whistleblowers in the pork barrel scam on Monday dismissed Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.'s statement that the whistleblowers are lying.

Attorney Levito Baligod told ANC that investigators confirmed his clients' allegations against Revilla and others implicated in the scam.

"After the whistleblowers executed their affidavit, the Commission on Audit came up with a special audit report practically confirming the allegations of the whistleblowers," he said.

"Then, second, the National Bureau of Investigation validated the allegations of the whistleblowers and they found probable cause to file a complaint with the Department of Justice," he added.

"Third, the Department of Justice conducted its own evaluation of the evidence submitted by the whistleblowers, and again the Department of Justice found probable cause to prosecute those respondents including Senator Revilla," Baligod said.

In a privilege speech in the Senate on Monday, Revilla denied allegations that he pocketed millions of pesos of his pork barrel funds through the use of fake non-government organizations linked to alleged pork scam brains Janet Lim Napoles.

He described scam whistleblower Benhur Luy as "Boy Pirma" and said there was a "SARO Gang" in government offices that were involved in the scam.

"Kung humahaba lang ang ilong ni Benhur Luy na yan, malamang umabot na ang ilong niya mula dito sa Senado hanggang sa Malacanang," Revilla said.

He also showed documents allegedly showing that his signature was was forged when government funds allotted to his office ended up in bogus non-profit organizations.

"Sabi nila yan daw po ang pirma ko, heto naman, iba naman ito, pirma ko rin daw," he said. "'Di po ba malinaw pa sa sikat ng araw, iba-iba iyang mga pirma na yan?" he asked.

"Paulit-ulit pong sinabi ni Benhur Luy sa hearing ng Blue Ribbon Committee na siya ang pumeke ng pirma sa lahat ng mga dokumento," Revilla said.

Luy, meanwhile, said in a text message forwarded by his lawyer to ABS-CBN News that Revilla earlier confirmed that the signatures in the documents belonged to him.

"Kinonfirm nya sa COA na original pirma niya iyun, bakit all of sudden sasabihin niya 'di niya pirma iyun?" he asked.

"Kinasuhan niya kami, bakit hindi nya kinasuhan si Janet Napoles?" he added. "Dahil ba malapit sila sa isa't-isa?"

Luy said they only copied the signature of the designated staff of lawmakers in the Senate. "Only sa liquidation, dahil kailangan mai-liquidate na ang pagkuhang pera but with instruction of Madam Napoles dahil kausap niya ang staff, or may pagkakataon na ang staff mismo pumipirma pag pumunta sa office."

He said a lawmaker involved in the scam personally signed documents sent to the Department of Budget and Management, letters to the Senate president, and documents endorsing bogus NGOs to implementing agencies.

"Pirma niya iyon," Luy said.

Revilla is one of three senators who reportedly received kickbacks when they diverted funds allotted for social development to fake non-profit organizations -- a scam allegedly perpetrated by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, who has been shown in at least one photo partying with the senator.

Last September, plunder charges were filed by the Justice Department against Revilla.

The complaint is now with the Ombudsman. - with reports from ANC