MANILA – Malacanang said Wednesday that Atty. Levito Baligod's dismissal as whistleblower Benhur Luy's counsel will not affect or diminish the strength of the case against those involved in the pork barrel scam.
"It was a decision taken by the client. But I understand that Atty. Baligod continues to be the lawyer for Merlina Suñas, so he continues to be involved in the case. Nonetheless, si Mr. Luy still has four lawyers and I am sure that the DOJ has taken up steps to ensure that patuloy pa rin ang legal services na bibigay kay Mr. Benhur Luy," Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
Lacierda also said he does not agree with observations that the separation of Baligod and Luy favors the respondents.
"It happens in any case. In any legal case, it's possible that a lawyer may withdraw from the case because of some differences. But does it diminish the strength of the case? No it does not," he said.
Sidestepping queries on other possible reasons for the termination of the relationship of Baligod and Lur, Lacierda said "that is something beyond us."
Lacierda, meantime, said the DOJ is now choosy with potential whistleblowers.
“I spoke to Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday. Ang hinahanap nila yung witnesses that can provide testimony that is not corroborative. Kung corroborative lang ang testimony mo, in all likelihood, you will not be entertained as a witness. Pero kung… meron kang impormasyon na bago na hindi pa alam ng mga prosecutors, you would be considered,” he noted.
Luy earlier dropped Baligod as his lawyer after he claimed that the lawyer no longer had time for him.
"Meron na ho siyang panibagong mga abogado, grupo ng abogado na kanyang in-engage ang services recently," she said.
In a letter that Luy sent to Baligod, he said, "It has been a rough and rugged road for us, and for all you have done, I am eternally thankful. However, I have noticed that you were very busy with your other advocacies that is why I have decided to pursue this journey even without you guiding me. It will not be easy though but this will mutually benefit us in the end."
"I would like to thank you for your time and effort in protecting my rights and representing me in my legal battles. My family and I wish you all the best in life especially in pursuing your advocacies."
DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima confirmed that she heard of a rift between Baligod and Luy but that she thought the two would patch up their differences.