Senate orders De Lima: Submit Luy files

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima gets another order from the Senate, this time to submit the digital files of pork barrel scam principal whistleblower Benhur Luy.

The Senate blue ribbon committee issued on Thursday, May 22, subpoenas to De Lima and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Virgilio Mendez to produce a copy of the contents of Luy’s hard drive submitted to the NBI. Chairman Teofisto "TG" Guingona III and Senate President Franklin Drilon signed the orders. 

The Senate gave the NBI, which is under De Lima’s department, until Wednesday, May 28, to comply.

The orders came a day after Luy’s lawyer Raymund Joseph Ian Mendoza wrote the Senate to suggest that it is best if the committee asks the NBI for the digital files. Wednesday was the deadline to Luy to submit his records.

“We deemed it more prudent to refer your directive to the Cybercrime Division of the National Bureau of Investigation. Please be informed that earlier, our client personally submitted to the said Division, the hard drive containing digital records and information in relation to the PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund] transactions of Janet Lim Napoles for forensic examination and authentication to preserve the integrity and confidentiality of its contents,” Mendoza wrote.

Watch this report below.

Luy's computer files

Luy’s digital files became the subject of controversy following a series of reports of the Philippine Daily Inquirer revealing their contents. The Inquirer said it copied Luy’s files from a hard disk his parents and his former lawyer Levito Baligod gave the paper when they visited the broadsheet's office on April 27, 2013.

Records from Luy's hard disk drive supposedly detailed the financial transactions of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles with lawmakers and other government officials from 2002 to 2012.

Mendoza though said that his client had no hand in the release of the reports, and cannot verify the authenticity of the information. Lawmakers and journalists named in the report also questioned the Inquirer’s decision to release the data supposedly without supporting documents or verification.

The paper said it found in the computer files records of financial transactions, bank documents, bank transfers, cash and check disbursements, letters of endorsements, memoranda of agreement, acceptance letters, list of properties, money transfers, auditor’s reports, private letters, insurance policies, prayers, photographs, project proposals, check disbursements, bank placements, bank deposits, drafts of various communications, special allocation release order numbers, guest lists and payrolls of Napoles employees.

Committee vice chairman Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III explained Wednesday why it was important for the committee to get a copy of Luy’s files.

“Because I think it’s a bigger list. The one of Napoles is from memory. She is trying to save whatever files was in her office. There are a lot of files if you’re going back to the year 2000,” Osmeña said.

Osmeña was referring to the list of officials Napoles implicated in the scam. De Lima submitted a signed document to the Senate last week, said to be a partial list only. The chamber decided to release it.

Extension

De Lima has until Thursday, May 29, to submit Napoles’ affidavit, after asking for a one-week extension last week. Napoles' lawyer Bruce Rivera said his client was unable to complete her affidavit because of her medical condition. Doctors at the Ospital ng Makati withdrew their discharge order because of what they described as "abnormal vaginal bleeding." Napoles was set to be discharged and returned to her detention center in Laguna no later than Friday, May 23.

Senators and Baligod questioned the discrepancies in the Napoles list and Luy’s digital files. The two have different names of officials. President Benigno Aquino III and observers said the existence of different lists was meant to “muddle the issue” and distract attention from the plunder charges against opposition Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, Jinggoy Estrada, and Juan Ponce Enrile.

Napoles’ lawyer Bruce Rivera had confirmed that his client wants to turn state witness nearly a year since the scam broke out. She faces plunder charges for allegedly conniving with legislators and executive officials to funnel millions of pesos in pork barrel to her fake non-governmental organizations. 

The Senate is expected to call Napoles back to testify after it gets a copy of all the documents. Napoles first testified in November 2013, only to deny knowledge of the scam. – Rappler.com