Lawyer to Revilla: Pork scam whistleblowers not lying
MANILA -- The lawyer of the whistleblowers in the P10 billion pork barrel scam on Saturday insisted his clients did not make up stories linking Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. to the anomaly.
Atty. Levito Baligod's statement came after Revilla was quoted in a Philippine Daily Inquirer report branding as "lies" the allegations made against him.
Revilla, as well as Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada were named by former officials of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) under the Department of Agriculture as having endorsed their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to fake non-government organizations (NGOs).
This corroborated a Commission on Audit (COA) report on the use of PDAF from 2007 to 2009 saying that Revilla, Enrile, Estrada, Edgardo Angara and Gregorio Honasan transferred a total of P1.45 billion worth of their pork barrel funds to NGOs, most of which are linked to Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the scam.
Napoles has been accused by the whistleblowers, led by Benhur Luy, of setting up bogus NGOs to siphon funds from certain lawmakers, who in turn supposedly got huge cuts from the deal.
In an interview with radio dzMM Saturday morning, Baligod said Revilla has no basis to say that all the allegations are lies.
He also slammed Revilla's statement that he is being persecuted in the media without due process.
"Mukhang mahirap paniwalaan po yan dahil bago pa naman lumabas yung COA report ay sinasabi na ng mga whistleblowers yung mga anomalya o pagmamalabis sa mga PDAF nila. Pinapatotoo lamang nito yung mga dati nang sinasabi ng whistleblowers," he said.
"Wala ho kasing kontrol ang mga whistleblowers diyan dahil ang media ay interesado din na malaman yung mga bagay-bagay patungkol dito sa mga sinasabi ng whistleblowers sa scam," he added.
Baligod also said Revilla could not simply dismiss allegations against him by saying that his signatures were forged.
"Eh parang ang hirap po paniwalaan na magmula pa noong 2004 until recently eh lagi na lang pinepeke yung pirma niya para ma-release ang PDAF niya."
"Binabantayan dapat ng legislator ang PDAF niya," he said.
Baligod said that while the whistleblowers admitted that they did not personally see Revilla receiving money or kickbacks from Napoles, his clients did see the senator's chief-of-staff pick up money from the office many times.
"Imposibleng di niya alam ginagawa ng chief-of-staff," the lawyer said.
Revilla, for his part, had said the allegations are only part of a smear job against him amid reports that he is running for higher office in 2016.
"Hindi totoo ang mga akusasyon na nakinabang ako sa usaping ito. Porke ba may mga nagtutulak sa ating tumakbo sa 2016 ay wawasakin na nila ang aking pangalan?"
"Eto na yun. This controversy has been engineered by the administration for only one purpose – to demolish the opposition, especially those who enjoy the popular support of our people," the senator said.