Last hearing: Benhur spills out new details of detention

The pork barrel scam whistle-blower says he was instructed to lie about his whereabouts, and threatened that his eyes, nose, and ears would be removed

INCONSISTENT? Benhur Luy says his affidavits are "not totally complete" because other details could be said during court hearings. Photo by Jose Del/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – A photo of his mother, instructions to lie about his whereabouts, and being threatened that his eyes, nose, and ears would be removed.

These are key, dramatic details in Benhuy Luy’s testimony on his alleged detention by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles and her brother Reynald “Jojo” Lim.

But why did the primary whistle-blower omit these details in 3 sworn affidavits?

Sabi naman po sa akin na hindi puwede lahat isulat dito,” Luy told Makati Regional Trial Court 150 on Wednesday, October 30, referring to his sworn testimonies. (I was told that I shouldn’t include all the details in my testimonies.)

His lawyer, Attorney Levito Baligod, told him he could add details when he testifies in court himself. 

Luy is the key witness in Napoles’ motion for bail hearing. Napoles faces charges of serious illegal detention alongside brother Reynald. The two allegedly detained Luy from December 2012 to March 2013.

The camp of Napoles and Lim however, asserts that Luy was only going through a “spiritual retreat.”

The “lack of details” in his affidavits was something the defense attacked during Luy’s cross examination. It has been the defense’s strategy with 7 prosecution witnesses before Luy – to insinuate that they could be embellishing their accounts of what happened.

For the details they needed to debunk, however, the defense presented only one witness – a priest close to Napoles and who said Luy’s spiritual retreat at his seminary didn’t push through.

Details, details

On October 29, Tuesday, Luy said that on December 20, the day after he was allegedly detained, Lim showed him a photo of her mother, Gertrudes Luy.

Nagets ko na ‘yung ibig niyang sabihin na parang sinabi nila na ‘yung mother ko nasa kanila,” said an emotional Luy. (I understood what he was trying to say: my mother was in their custody.)

Luy also told the Makati court that Lim repeatedly told him to tell his family that he was at the office of Napoles’ company – JLN Corporation – in Discovery Suites in Ortigas Center, Pasig City, and not at “Bahay ni San Jose” in Magallanes Village in Makati City.

Lim would allow Luy to speak to his family on the phone – but only under Lim’s supervision. During one of those supervised calls, Lim allegedly told Luy’s family that his eyes, ears, and nose had been cut off.

Questioned by defense counsel Alfredo Villamor, Luy insisted that he was telling the truth both in his affidavits and his testimony and court but that the information in the affidavits were “not totally complete.”

Villamor took over as lead counsel of Napoles on Wednesday, October 30, after lawyer Lorna Kapunan said she would resign. Kapunan earlier said that she could conduct Luy’s cross examination herself.

Napoles ‘most demonic’

Despite Lim being Luy’s constant companion while he was allegedly detained, Luy still considered Napoles “the most demonic” in those 3 months.

Siya po nagpakulong sa akin,” he explained. (She ordered me detained.)

Luy said that all the restrictions that Lim imposed on him came from Napoles, who wanted him jailed because she caught Luy’s “transactions” with the chiefs-of-staff of several senators.

Prior to his detention, Luy planned to try his hands on Napoles’ line of business – but the legal kind, he added.

“‘Yung transaction din sa gobyerno, basta legal,” Luy said. (I wanted to try transactions with the government too, as long as it was legal.)

End of bail hearing

On the same day, the defense presented its first and final witness, Father Peter Lavin of the Alagad ni Maria Seminary in Antipolo City.

Lavin said Benhur was supposed to undergo a “spiritual retreat” in Antipolo upon Lim’s request. When Luy didn’t show up, Lavin decided to visit Monsignor Ramirez in Magallanes Village.

“I didn’t see any spiritual growth whatsoever because Monsignor Ramirez already took the role as spiritual advisor so I just said hello to him and he said he was okay,” Lavin said.

Lavin appears to be one of the priests who are close to Napoles. According to JLN Corporation’s 2013 general information sheet, Lavin is a stockholder in the company.

“I saw that on TV, I think it’s all a lie,” said Lavin.

The priest also denied knowing Napoles well: “Not so much. After the mass, we’ll just have little kuwentuhan (chat).”

But records at Fort Santo Domingo in Laguna, where Napoles is detained, show that Lavin had visited Napoles at least twice in the past 7 days – on October 24, the same day she was rushed to a Laguna hospital for kidney stones, and on October 28, two days before Lavin was to testify in court.

During the October 24 visit, Lavin was accompanied by Villamor.

Lavin denied consulting with Napoles for his testimony. He only spoke to Villamor and Monsignor Ramirez, he said.

Right after his testimony at the Makati court, Lavin went to Napoles at Fort Sto Domingo. According to police records, he logged in at 2:45 pm. 

With the presentation of witnesses for the bail motion over, it will be up to presiding Judge Elmo Alameda to issue a resolution. Clerk of court Diosfa Valencia said Alameda will issue a resolution “within the month.” –

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