MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) belies claims that pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy is being “influenced” as a state witness to favor certain politicians linked to the scam.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said in an interview with reporters Wednesday, March 5, that the protocol within the DOJ Witness Protection Program (WPP) leaves no opportunity for politicians to access witnesses in their custody.
“…walang mga political personalities, whether opposition or administration. Wala hong nakikialam sa amin,” she said. “Sa pag-aalaga at sa pagha-handle ng whistleblowers including Benhur, kami lang yun – WPP, DOJ, NBI. Walang ibang nakikialam sa kanila. Wala sa kanilang nakaka-access.“
(… there are no political personalities, whether opposition or administration. No one is interfering with us. Taking care of and handling the whistleblowers, including Benhur, that’s just us – WPP, DOJ, NBI. No one else interferes. None of them has access [to the witnesses].)
Luy on Tuesday, March 4, relieved lawyer Levito Baligod as his counsel in the cases related to the illegal diversion of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to fake non-governmental organizations.
He was reported to have had differences with Luy and the other whistleblowers over testimonies involving Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory Ong and Technology Resource Center head Dennis Cunanan. He was also said to have less time for the whistleblowers and had been absent in court. (READ: Why Luy dropped Baligod as counsel)
Asked why he was fired by Luy, Baligod was quoted by an Inquirer report as saying, “Someone wants to control Benhur Luy… And I will be a hindrance to that.” Interviewed on GMA-7 Wednesday, March 5, Baligod also said he did not want to implicate people without solid evidence. Explaining his failure to accompany the witnesses in court, he claimed to be trying to collect more evidence.
De Lima belied Baligod’s claim about someone controlling Luy. She said access to Luy is restricted due to security concerns, as he has implicated powerful people in the scam.
Luy, the principal witness in the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam involving Janet Lim Napoles – the alleged brains behind it – was key to the exposé. He was rescued by National Bureau of Investigation agents in March 2013 after being allegedly illegally detained by Napoles. (READ: Where did Napoles detain Benhur Luy?)
De Lima said she has yet to meet with the new lawyers of Luy. – Rappler.com