'Betrayal' part of Enrile defense: lawyer
MANILA - The lawyer of whistle-blower Benhur Luy believes Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile is now laying the groundwork for his defense in the pork barrel scam when he allegedly washed his hands of the actions of his former chief of staff.
Speaking to ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda, lawyer Levito Baligod said it is highly unlikely that Enrile did not know or did not sanction the transactions between Atty. Gigi Reyes and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles regarding his pork barrel allocations.
"Maaari pong defense nila yan...Normally dapat alam ng boss ang ginagawa ng kanyang subordinate lalong lalo na ang pinag-uusapan natin milyon milyon sa PDAF," he told Punto por Punto host Anthony Taberna.
He also said it is unlikely that Enrile did not know that P400 million to P500 million of his own pork barrel funds were allocated to Napoles-owned non-government organizations.
Political scientist and visiting professor Benjamin Muego backed Baligod's statement, saying the public might not believe the Enrile camp's statement that the senator did not know what Reyes was doing.
"It is possible that they are laying the basis for defense," he said.
He also said some of those linked to the pork scam might create diversionary tactics to draw attention away from themselves.
Enrile, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and Sen. Bong Revilla Jr. are facing plunder charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly funneling their pork barrel allocations to fake non-governmental organizations. All three senators have denied any links to the scam.
Atty. Gigi Reyes, the former chief of staff of Enrile, earlier said she felt betrayed following statements by Enrile's lawyer that the senator "did not give his blessings" to the actions taken by Reyes with respect to his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
"If indeed these statements are sanctioned by or coming from my former boss, then nothing can be worse than this kind of travesty and betrayal," she said in a statement posted on Facebook.
Enrile later denied betraying Reyes, saying: "I’m not up to betray any of my people. I've never been known for that."
Baligod said the evidence in the pork barrel case "only reaches to Atty. Reyes" and that kickbacks intended for Enrile were handed over to Reyes.
He said none of the whistle-blowers witnessed Enrile taking the pork barrel kickbacks.
However, he also noted that Enrile designated Napoles-linked NGOs to be the conduit of his pork barrel funds.
"That is clear intention to circumvent the law on procurement, so that it will not undergo bidding process. It is a violation of the anti-graft law," he said.