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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – “If there is any justice in this world, [Lawyer Levito] Baligod and his backers should be drawn, quartered and their severed heads hung from the highest Rizal Park flagpoles.”
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said she is mulling over a disbarment case against lawyer Levito Baligod for allegedly drawing up the list of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy. A former lawyer of Luy, Baligod has denied the charge.
Still, Santiago effectively blamed Baligod for her inclusion in the so-called “Luy list” of lawmakers who transacted with scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles. The Philippine Daily Inquirer released the list this week in a series of stories based on the digital files of Luy.
“It appears that Baligod, by his own admission, concocted the list and distributed it. It also appears that Luy dismissed Baligod and is now represented by lawyer Raji Mendoza. The incumbent lawyer has told media that Luy had nothing do with the preparation of the so-called Luy list. If so, then Baligod should take full responsibility,” Santiago said in a statement on Friday, May 16.
Santiago was referring to an Inquirer story on Friday, where the newspaper said that its articles were “culled from a copy of Luy’s hard disk drive given by his parents in the presence of his former lawyer, Levito Baligod, on April 27, 2013.”
In decrying her inclusion in the supposed Luy list, Santiago said she won the Magsaysay Award for government service where she was cited for “bold and moral leadership in cleaning up a corrupt government agency.”
“The Magsaysay Award Foundation authorized a secret investigation of my integrity before I was chosen. Now, scums like Baligod and his conspirators think nothing of destroying my reputation,” Santiago said.
The senator said that Baligod is guilty of libel, and there are grounds for his disbarment.
She quoted the Rules of Court, which states that the Supreme Court can disbar a lawyer for “any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in public office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the lawyer’s oath, and therefore Baligod should be disbarred.”
Santiago reiterated her call for a new Senate hearing on the pork barrel scam, this time also calling Baligod and Mendoza “to settle the criminal responsibility for the Luy list.”
In a subsequent statement, Santiago cited Baligod’s denial that she was named in the records of Luy. Still, she said the so-called “Baligod list” was poisoned “and insinuated that they are crooks who have been her long-time enemies.”
The “Luy list” is just one of many lists that have been circulating in the media in relation to the country’s biggest corruption scandal in recent history.
Napoles also submitted a signed list of officials she supposedly transacted with, to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. Yet Rehabilitation Secretary Panfilo Lacson and whistleblower Sandra Cam also claimed to have their own unsigned versions of the list. President Benigno Aquino III said he too saw two different copies of the list.
Napoles is accused of orchestrating an elaborate corruption scheme involving top lawmakers and executive officials to funnel pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to her bogus non-governmental organizations in exchange for kickbacks. She faces plunder charges over the scandal.
Baligod: No Luy list, No Miriam name
Santiago is not the first to hold Baligod liable for the so-called Luy list. Luy’s current lawyer Mendoza earlier told Rappler that it was Baligod who copied the data from Luy’s files that the Inquirer used.
Yet Baligod said he only copied the data for back-up purposes. (READ: ‘Napolist’ frenzy reignites Luy-Baligod tussle)
In an interview on Bandila Thursday night, Baligod said Luy’s family gave the Inquirer copies of Luy’s files but denied that the principal whistleblower made a list of officials. He said what Luy had was a database, not a list, of financial transaction records amounting to 2,700 pages and spanning 2004 to 2010.
Asked if he saw Santiago’s name on the database, Baligod said, “’Di ko po nakita ang pangalan ni Senator Miriam Santiago. Kahit sa [database] mismo ni Benhur, ingat na ingat kami. Kahit nandoon ang pangalan ng isang government official, it doesn’t mean involved siya sa PDAF scam.”
(I did not see the name of Senator Miriam Santiago. Even in the database of Benhur, we are so careful. Even if a government official’s name is there, it doesn’t mean he or she is involved in the PDAF scam.)
Baligod was asked why Santiago’s rival, Lacson, said Santiago was in the Luy list.
“Dapat hindi ganoon ang representation dahil wala naman si Senator Santiago doon,” Baligod said. (That shouldn’t have been the representation because Senator Santiago was not there.)
Baligod also disclosed that he submitted his own list of officials to the justice department on March 8, 2013, before Luy was rescued from alleged detention by Napoles.
The lawyer said his list was “duly validated” by other supporting documents based on his research from various agencies.
Baligod said only the 3 opposition senators indicted over the scam – Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile – were included in his list.
Luy’s former lawyer earlier questioned Napoles’ list, pointing out that it included officials who did not receive kickbacks while excluding others who might have violated the law. Baligod said it was clear Napoles was only trying to muddle the issue. (READ: Baligod: Lists show Napoles to plead insanity) – Rappler.com