File photo by Senate PRIB
MANILA, Philippines – Is he the mysterious Mr “Sexy?”
Sen Jinggoy Estrada denied knowing principal whistleblower Benhur Luy, who testified before the Senate on the process and extent of the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam.
In a radio interview on Thursday, September 12, Estrada said he never received any money from Luy or anyone linked to his second cousin, alleged pork barrel queen Janet Napoles.
While Luy did not name Estrada in his testimony, he said one of the senators involved in the scam was a certain “Sexy,” whose office he visited sometime in 2011 and 2012. In past reports, whistleblowers identified Estrada as “Sexy,” a term Luy said was used because the once fat senator had lost weight.
“Ako naman inaamin ko naman na dati akong mataba na pumayat dahil nagpa-opera ako para pumayat dahil talagang shobang-shoba na ako noong araw,” Estrada told DZMM. “Unang-una, nais kong linawin na hindi ko po kilala si Benhur, hindi ko po nakikita si Benhur sa aking tanggapan.”
(I admit I was fat before and I lost weight because I underwent an operation to be thin because I was so fat back then. First, I want to clarify that I do not know Benhur, I do not see him in my office.)
Estrada said he does not know who Luy was referring to as “Sexy.”
“Hindi ko kilala kahit sino pong whistleblower, iyong 15, 16 o 17 na whistleblowers. Wala po akong kilala doon at hindi ko rin po kilala si Benhur Luy. As far as my memory serves me right, hindi ko po nakakausap si Benhur Luy.”
(I do not know any of the 15, 16, or 17 whistleblowers. I do not know anyone among them and I do not know Benhur Luy. As far as my memory serves me right, I never talked to Benhur Luy.)
While Estrada denied knowing Luy, he had admitted that he knows Napoles “through a friend.” Rappler released photographs of the two at a party.
Luy made a surprise appearance in the hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Thursday. He gave a detailed account of how Napoles allegedly connived with lawmakers and their staff to transfer the pork barrel to her fake non-governmental organizations.
Luy said the lawmakers got as much as 50% of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), while Napoles got 40% and the implementing agencies pocketed 10%.
The whistleblower said the lawmakers would call Napoles or even visit her office to offer their PDAF. Senators get P200 million in PDAF every year while congressmen get P70 million.
‘Why selective auditing?’
Estrada said he does not know whether or not he will attend future hearings of the Senate panel. He reiterated that he recused himself from the probe to avoid being accused of influencing the investigation.
The senator also accused the Commission on Audit (COA) of singling him out, along with Senators Bong Revilla and Juan Ponce Enrile.
In past hearings, COA chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan and former heads of implementing agencies named the 3 senators as having endorsed the Napoles NGOs as the recipients of their PDAF.
“I am alarmed with the COA audit because it’s always the 3 of us, Sen Enrile, Sen Revilla and myself who are mentioned,” Estrada said in Filipino. “I want to ask the COA, why Sen Enrile was 100% audited, me 80% audited, and Sen Revilla 79%.”
“How come the 3 of us are the subjects of a wide audit while my fellow senators from the other camp, some of the congressmen, were only audited 8%, 10%, 20%. Why is it that for the 3 of us, our audit is about to be completed?”
‘I took care of my name’
Estrada also lamented the supposed smear campaign against him and his two colleagues, reiterating that he was already “convicted before the bar of public opinion.”
“Pinangalagaan ko ang pangalan ko simula nang maging senador ako. Maraming mga tao ang hindi naniniwala na karapat-dapat po akong maging senador noong 2004. Pero nag-aral po ako, talagang I created a name for myself, tapos bigla na lang akong sisirain basta-basta.”
(I have taken care of my name ever since I became senator. Many could not believe that I deserve to be senator in 2004. But I studied, I created a name for myself and all of a sudden they will destroy it.)
He added, “Siguro naman marami ang nakakapansin, hindi naman po sa pagbubuhat ng sarili kong bangko, na ako naman siguro kaya ako nanalo ng reelection noong 2010 dahil na-appreciate nila ang aking trabaho bilang senador. Tapos bigla na lang sisirain ng mga gustong sumira ng pangalan na napabango ko naman kahit paano.”
(Maybe many people notice, not to toot my own horn, but the reason I won reelection in 2010 was they appreciated my work as a senator. And now those who want to attack me will destroy the name that I worked for.)