MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The whistleblower in the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam, Benhur Luy, is now under the Witness Protection Program (WPP).
On Thursday night, July 18, Luy’s lawyer Levi Baligod confimed to Rappler that Luy already arrived at the Department of Justice around 3:30 pm, and his application for WPP was approved around 4:30 pm. Baligod said Benhur is now in the custody of the WPP.
“Madali na lang noong dumating kami [at the DOJ]. Dinala po lang namin ‘yung application plus submission of other documents then after that, he was covered,” Baligod said.
(It was easy when we arrived [at the DOJ]. We had his [Benhur Luy’s] application plus submission of other documents then after that, he was covered.)
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima announced earlier Thursday Luy agreed to be placed under the WPP.
“We were advised by the lawyer, Atty Levi Baligod, that they will now be coordinating with the WPP office for the purpose of putting [his client] under WPP coverage,” De Lima said.
De Lima’s earlier statement came after news reports on the exposé of Benhur Luy of a “pork barrel scam” allegedly hatched by Janet Lim Napoles.
The scam involves the use of billions of pesos worth of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) by lawmakers in “ghost projects” by alleged “dummy” non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
READ: DOJ offers protection to scam whistleblower, family
De Lima said that upon knowing Luy’s allegations in March, she “constituted a very small team of trusted investigators,” which included NBI director Nonnatus Rojas to conduct an investigation on the alleged scheme.
She said they kept the investigation “under wraps” because they did not want to make any mistakes, given the “gravity” of the exposé.
On Wednesday, Napoles, through her lawyer Bruce Rivera, denied involvement in the supposed scam. Rivera said his client is “ready to face any investigation” since Napoles now wants to have “a quiet life.”
READ: Napoles ready to face probe on PDAF ‘scam’ – lawyer
De Lima earlier reiterated her offer to Luy and other members of his family after they initially refused.
De Lima disclosed that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has gathered “subsequent documents and records” on the alleged scam after Benhur submitted his first set of affidavits.
De Lima, however, admitted that she could not comment on the strength of the documents, as she has not yet seen all the documents submitted to the NBI.
“They have also coordinated with relevant agencies na sa tingin nila ay makakatulong din at kung saan nanggaling din ‘yung ibang mga dokumento na ine-evaluate nila,” De Lima added. (They have also coordinated with relevant agencies that [the NBI] think will help in evaluating the documents.)
De Lima also said that she is treating the dismissed serious illegal detention case of Benhur against Napoles.
“Hindi pa rin tapos ‘yan kahit na nagkaroon ng [resoulution] at the prosecutor’s level [because] nag-motion of reconsideration si Benhur at NBI [team] before the same prosecutor at may proseso ‘yan whether ma-grant or deny ung motion,” De Lima said. (The case is not yet closed even though there is already a resolution at the prosecutor’s level because there was a motion of reconsideration filed by Benhur and the NBI team before the same prosecutor and there is a process there whether it will be granted or denied.)
De Lima added the sepearte case won’t affect the investigation into the alleged scam.
De Lima also rejected the appeal of Napoles camp for a different set of NBI team to investigate the alleged scam. She suspected that this is a strategy on the part of Napoles to get a friendly set of investigators.
De Lima said that the NBI has been “very thorough” in evaluating all the evidence gathered in the investigation. – Rappler.com
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