No need for Janet Napoles: Cases vs LP lawmakers pending at Ombudsman

MANILA, Philippines – Lawyer Levito Baligod revealed on Monday, March 19, that he has pending pork scam complaints against 25 legislators, 17 of whom belong to opposition Liberal Party.

“I know that the Ombudsman is already acting on the other legislators. That is why there is no need for Janet Napoles because cases can prosper even without her as witness,” Baligod said.

Baligod was the lawyer of state witness Benhur Luy before he quit his team. Baligod proceeded to investigate the scam and filed his own cases with himself as complainant. “(It is my) civic duty,” he said.

Baligod agreed that there was “selective prosecution” when former justice secretary Leila de Lima investigated the scam.

“At that time, the Department Of Justice (DOJ) had all the evidence against everybody linked with the PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund) scam but it only filed cases against 25 legislators. What the other witnesses and I did was to go directly to Ombudsman and filed cases against the rest,” Baligod said. 

State protection

Baligod revealed this information following the DOJ’s move to put Napoles under state protection, with talks of using her as a state witness.

Napoles’ lawyer Stephen David said on Monday that his client's new affidavit to the DOJ includes more names. The DOJ under Aguirre has opened a reinvestigation that targets allies of the Aquino administration. (READ: Sandiganbayan to DOJ: Prove threats vs Janet Napoles)

It's very clear only the opposition at that time ang mga nafile-an. So do you honestly believe na walang na-involve sa dating administrasyon? Eh bakit hahayaan natin na manatili na nakatago 'ung participation ng iba? It's about time that we should listen to Mrs Napoles,” David said.

(It's very clear that cases were filed only against the opposition at the time. So do you honestly believe no one from the previous administration was involved? Why did we let the participation of others go unexposed? It's about time that we should listen to Mrs Napoles.)

Aguirre has hinted it will be former budget secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad who will be the center of the reinvestigation, going by Napoles' claim that Abad taught her how to set up fake non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

In an interview in May 2017, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said they were already investigating Abad.

Baligod said there is no need for Napoles in the reinvestigation because “the government already has all the information that she can give.”

“What is there to say more? And, for practical reasons, she cannot be an effective witness because her reputation for truthfulness is very bad,” Baligod said.

Baligod added that if Napoles is used as a new witness, it will just weaken new cases that will be filed.

“Those to be sued under Napoles' testimony will just be too happy to have her as an adverse witness because they can easily demolish her credibility,” Baligod said.

Baligod added: "This is a cruel one-sided love affair. The happy side is Napoles-David-Aguirre-Calida. The People of the Philippines suffers."

Ongoing trial

Meanwhile, David has confirmed that Napoles will not testify in the plunder trial of former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla. (READ: TIMELINE: Janet Napoles from scandal to testimony)

“We agreed she will not testify,” David told the court’s first division on Monday, a day before their camp is scheduled to present evidence in Revilla’s trial. The defense presentation has been delayed for months now, owing to the Revilla camp’s filing of different motions.

Revilla’s trial has reached the farthest at the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, while the case of former senator Jinggoy Estrada is at the prosecution presentation level. The case of former senator Juan Ponce Enrile is stuck at the pre-trial level.

This signifies the attempt by the defense to hold out. Revilla, for one, is relying on the Supreme Court to stop the trial at the Sandiganbayan. They have yet to present evidence, insisting that  the prosecution’s evidence is too weak to proceed.

Napoles, who is up next, had indicated that their witness will be stenographers of the court to prove that their allegations do not link her to the crime of plunder. Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg of the first division had ruled that the stenographers are irrelevant witnesses.

If Napoles skips presentation on Tuesday, March 20, Revilla’s former staff Richard Cambe is up next, then Revilla again, in accordance with the order of presentation.

Alam mo itong existing cases, I am very confident na maaabsuwelto siya rito kasi unang-una, ang testimony lang dito all boils down on the testimony of Benhur [Luy]. Wala namang dokumento kahit isang dokumento wala naman,” David said.

(I am very confident that Napoles will be cleared in these existing case. Firstly, the only testimony here boils down to Benhur Luy's testimony. He doesn't have a single document.) Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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