MANILA (Mabuhay) – Primary whistleblower Benhur Luy on Friday admitted that he never talked to Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s former chief of staff, lawyer Gigi Reyes, about the alleged pork barrel scam.
Testifying before the Sandiganbayan Third Division on Friday, Luy said he was only able to talk about the transactions with Enrile’s deputy chief of staff, Jose Antonio Evangelista II.
Luy noted that he only talked about the Cohen diet, a popular diet program, with Reyes.
Earlier, in a partial motion for reconsideration – prepared by lawyers Edwardson L. Ong and Mercedes Isabel Mayoralgo of Ponce Enrile Reyes & Manalastas Law Offices — Evangelista took full responsibility for processing the disbursement of Enrile’s pork barrel allocations, according to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report.
Evangelista, however, blamed implementing agencies for allocating the pork barrel funds to alleged bogus non-government organizations, it added.
He said this after Reyes denied any participation in the release of Enrile’s pork barrel funds.
Luy, meanwhile, stressed that it was their middlemen who made the transaction between trader Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam, and Enrile’s office.
Luy identified their middlemen as witness Ruby Tuason, her husband Carlos Butch Tuason, Napoles’ friend Maria Teresa De Joyo, and Napoles’ legal counsel Alfred Villamor.
He noted that Ruby Tuason was Reyes’ close friend.
Meanwhile, also during the Friday hearing, the court questioned Luy’s records, which lacked some vital information.
In particular, the court asked why no name of the middleman was indicated in Luy’s journal in a transaction made in 2008.
Luy, for his part, explained that the transaction was only a continuation of an advance payment earlier made.
“Kay Ruby Tuason lang ‘yon (transaction),” he explained.
Luy admitted that he was not able to record some of the transactions made with lawmakers if the transaction was made directly with Napoles.
“’Yung mga transaction lang na dumadaan sa’kin ‘yung nare-record ko,” he said. “May red notebook si Napoles. Doon niya sinusulat mga transaction niya.”
Also not included in Luy’s records was a P2-million to P3-million “commission” he received from Napoles from 2007 to 2009.
During those years, Luy admitted that they had not implemented any project for the pork barrel funds they received.
In the past years, they only overpriced the projects, he added.
“Pero for 2007 to 2009, may projects pero hindi ito ini-implement,” he said. “May komisyon kami para dito.”
However, the court questioned why the bonus was not recorded.
For his part, Napoles’ main counsel, lawyer Stephen David, told reporters after the hearing that the lack of information in Luy’s records was suspicious.
“’Yung kickback, dapat naka-record lahat iyon… Kung totoo ang kanyang ginagawang sinasabing manufactured financial record, dapat naka-reflect,” he said. “Naka-reflect kung paano ang naging bigayan. E kahit ang komisyon niya, bonus ng empleyado, wala.”
He also stressed that his client had denied such red notebook.
“Tapos may iba pa siyang ‘di nire-record, dahil naka-record naman kay Napoles. Hindi ba malabo ang ganoon?” he added.
The hearing was cut short due to lack of time, and will continue next Friday.
The pork barrel scam was first unveiled by Luy, and later validated by a Commission on Audit special report released in August 2013 that detailed ghost recipients, questionable receipts, and suppliers operating without permits.
Aside from Enrile, Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla have been implicated in the said scam. All three senators are under detention. (MNS)