Benhur on Baligod: We did not fight

Angela Casauay
Luy insists he has no falling out with his former lawyer, who is also a counsel for Cunanan. The two witnesses have conflicting claims on the PDAF scam.

NO FALLING OUT. Pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy tells the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee why he replaced lawyer Levito Baligod. Rappler photo

MANILA, Philippines – Pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy refused to confirm reports that he had a falling out with his former legal counsel Levito Baligod over differences in the testimonies of certain witnesses.

In the 10th Senate hearing on the pork barrel scam, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero asked Luy, “According to a report, you were in disagreement with Baligod regarding the testimony of some officials?”

Luy responded: “Siya po ang dapat sumagot sa alegasyon. Tanungin po ‘yung media. Tanungin po kung saang source ‘yung nagfi-feed. Hindi po kami nag-aaway ni Baligod.” (He should be the one to answer the allegation. You should ask the media, ask which source is giving that feed. Baligod and I did not fight.)

On Thursday, March 6, Luy appeared before the Senate blue ribbon committee with Technology Resource Center director general Dennis Cunanan, who denied during the hearing that he received kickbacks from non-governmental organizations linked to alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.

Luy, for his part, said Cunanan visited Napoles’ JLN Corporation office at Discovery Suites in Ortigas Center, where Napoles asked him to prepare money for a meeting in the office with Evelyn de Leon and Cunanan.

However, he said he did not personally hand the money to Cunanan.

Luy maintained that the main reason why he relieved Baligod as his counsel was because of the the lawyer’s lack of attention to his case. Luy said Baligod was more concerned about his “advocacies.” 

“As the client, kailangan ko ng legal counsel kung haharap ako sa government agency. Kailangang assisted by the counsel. Hindi siya nakakapunta,” Luy said. (As the client, I need a legal counsel whenever I face government agencies. I need to be assisted by a counsel. He could not make it.)

“Hindi ako sanay na ako rin ang kinakasuhan so nagdedepende ako sa lawyer ko,” Luy added.  (I’m not used to being sued, so I depend on my lawyer.)

Conflicting testimonies

In a report, Rappler cited sources from the whistleblowers’ camp saying Luy had complained that Baligod was keeping him in the dark about legal strategies in building up the pork barrel case. (READ: Why Luy dropped Baligod as counsel)

Baligod tapped Cunanan to help pin Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr in the pork barrel scam. Cunanan is now a “provisional state witness.”

This gave Luy concerns that his and Cunanan’s testimony would not jibe as far as his culpability in the scam is concerned. “We’re saying he accepted bribes. He is saying he did not. How do we reconcile this conflicting claim?” the source said.

Luy is also reportedly uncomfortable about Baligod being Cunanan’s counsel. In an earlier phone interview, Baligod confirmed that he is counsel for Cunanan, stressing that he had known Cunanan even before the pork barrel scandal broke out.

“In fact, only after I got confirmation from Cunanan that the pork barrel of the lawmakers was misused that I found the resolve to pursue the case,” Baligod said in that interview.  Rappler.com

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