Senate to divulge Benhur Luy files
MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Teofisto “TG” Guingona III will divulge the digital files of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy detailing the financial transactions involved in the pork barrel scam.
Guingona received the files in CD format from National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Virgilio Mendez, who personally handed this to the senator on Wednesday, May 28, in compliance with a subpoena.
Watch this report below.
"In the spirit of openness, transparency so the interest of the public will be served, we will divulge the contents of this first to my fellow senators and then to the public via the media," Guingona told reporters.
Guingona's staff said the files will be released to the media on Thursday because it takes time to reproduce it.
Mendez said it was the same files that the NBI submitted to the Ombudsman in connection with its investigation into the country’s biggest corruption scandal in recent history.
“The hard copy produced out of the hard drive was submitted to the Ombudsman in compliance with subpoena issued to us since February,” Mendez said. “The copy we have submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman was more or less 31,700+ pages.”
Asked if it was the same files that the Philippine Daily Inquirer released, Mendez said, “I have no idea.”
Guingona said he was open to the suggestion of Senator Jinggoy Estrada to summon the Inquirer's copy of Luy files but there was no need because the NBI copy was official.
"If there is any deviation between what is officially submitted and what is inside the Inquirer, then this one stands because this is officially submitted to us."
Guingona said the CD was sealed and asked Ronald Aguto, NBI cybercrime division chief, to open it in front of the media.
“The disc is encrypted so they said they need instructions to open it to make sure it cannot be altered,” Guingona said.
Aguto said the files consisted of Microsoft Word and Excel documents. He said the NBI conducted forensic investigation of Luy's files.
“The computer forensic laboratory of the NBI did a forensic examination of the hard drive using a software called Encase. Based on Encase, we examined it. We retrieved the files deleted and part of the report is those retrieved through the software and the contents,” Aguto said.
The NBI said Luy submitted the files last year as part of the bureau’s probe into the pork barrel scam.
Luy’s former lawyer, Levito Baligod, earlier said that the files detail the daily financial transactions of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles including the names of lawmakers and officials she gave kickbacks to. Luy was Napoles’ finance officer.
Luy referred to his files in his sworn statements on the scam.
Guingona, Mendez and Aguto all refused to answer questions on the contents of the files.
Guingona said the Senate will first have to “collate, compile” all the information it got from the files, along with the affidavit of Napoles it got on Monday before deciding to call a hearing.
Senators have urged the committee to call Napoles, Luy, and other scam players back to the Senate to testify on the contents of the files and the affidavit.
Senate open to summoning ‘red book’
The committee is investigating the scheme that involves siphoning off pork barrel funds to Napoles’ bogus non-governmental organizations. Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Napoles face plunder charges over the scam.
Guingona said he was willing to issue another subpoena for the reported “red book” of Napoles. Quoting whistleblowers, Baligod said Napoles kept a “red book” where she wrote all her dealings, including payoffs to officials.
The chairman said, “We just heard about that today. We’ll verify its existence. Of course, we will subpoena it once we know it exists.” – Rappler.com