MANILA, Philippines – Levi Baligod rose to prominence when he became the counsel of pork barrel scam whistle blower Benhur Luy. During his stint as his lawyer, they were able to produce a list implicating a number of senators and congressmen who channeled their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus non-governmental organizations, allegedly in exchange for kickbacks.
Months after, Luy relieved Baligod, citing the lawyer’s “lack of time” as one of the major reasons.
Baligod, however, said that his failure to accompany witnesses in court was because he was trying to gather more evidence as he did not want to implicate people without solid evidence. He also said, “Someone wants to control Benhur Luy…and I will be a hindrance to that.”
Baligod wants to continue the fight against corruption as a lawmaker.
“Noong nilalabanan natin ang korapsyon as an ordinary citizen, nakagawa tayo ng konting accomplishtment pero kailangan itong ipagpatuloy dahil ang laban sa korapsyon dapat walang sinasanto, walang sinisino,” he said.
(When I fought corruption as an ordinary citizen, we had some accomplishments, but we need to continue the fight which should not spare anyone.)
As part of Rappler #PHvote’s “The Leader I Want” series, we look at Baligod’s stand on key issues that the next batch of senators will have to address.
Fighting against corruption is among Baligod’s top priorities if elected as senator.
“Corruption is the worst thief. It steals the hope of our country, it steals a better future for our country, and more importantly, it steals the morality of the individual. So kumakandidato ako para may mas konkreto akong magawa kung nasa loob ako ng gobyerno,” he said. (I’m running because I can do something more concrete if I’m in government.)
On the PDAF cases, he has been criticizing former justice secretary Leila de Lima’s apparent “selective justice” in handling the PDAF case. He said he wants all those involved in the scam to be prosecuted.
He is also pushing to review legislators’ PDAF and Disbursement Acceleration Program fund. The DAP allowed Malacañang to bypass Congress in realigning the budgets of executive agencies, pulling out the allocation for unfinished projects from one agency and transferring it to other agencies – an arrangement that critics said effectively gave the President’s office a huge pork barrel. The Supreme Court declared some schemes under the DAP unconstitutional.
When asked about his preferred presidential candidate, he said, it should be someone who can “provide the highest possibility that he will be an anti-corruption president.”
The independent candidate also advocates the modernization of agricultural production, as well as reforms in the education system. – with reports from Welhemina Quinday/Rappler.com
Levi Baligod is among the senatorial candidates who will participate in Rappler’s #TheLeaderIWant Senatorial Debates at AMA University and Colleges in Quezon City on Friday, April 8, from 3 pm to 5:30 pm.