PDAF scam whistleblower wants another judge to recall arrest

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Friday, July 19, 2013

MANILA (3rd Update) -- Benhur Luy, the main whistleblower in the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds, asked the judge hearing his qualified theft case to step aside and let another judge resolve his request to lift the warrant of arrest issued against him.

The warrant issued on July 9 by Judge Danilo Buemio of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court branch 265 came after Luy was accused of stealing money from Janet Napoles, the businesswoman supposedly behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

Napoles brought charges against Luy after she discovered that her former personal assistant stole P300,000 that should have been deposited to her bank account, and took out P5.5 million in loans from Air Material Wing Savings and Loan Association without her consent.

Luy's counsel, Levito Baligod, challenged the court order on Friday, saying they were "not convinced that we can get justice from this court."

Baligod disputed the judge’s finding of probable cause in the complaint forwarded by the Pasig Prosecutor’s Office, saying there were competing assertions on Napoles’ claim that she ordered Luy to put P300,000 into her bank account.

“The complaint’s evidence came from two witnesses who said the money was given (by Napoles) to Benhur in the morning of December 18. We also have two witnesses who said it didn’t happen. An employee of JLN Corp. also said Napoles was not in her office in the morning of December 18,” he said.

Citing the rules of evidence, Baligod said the party who has the burden of proof loses if there is an evidentiary equipoise (two sides presented).

He added that the fiscal’s resolution dated June 25 did not contain the written approval of Prosecutor Camilo Dumlao, which is required in the filing of information under Rule 114 of the Rules of Court.

“The judge should have inquired further if there was an authority given by the City Prosecutor for the findings. What I saw was the stamp bearing the prosecutor’s name and his signature. It did not say if it was approved or disapproved,” the lawyer said.

Baligod said the court could not insist on taking custody of Luy since he is a witness to a “more important crime,” which spurred Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to place him under the department’s Witness Protection Program (WPP) for the meantime. Read the related story.

"If the warrant of arrest will be served, it will be coursed through the WPP and inform the court he is under application and so we will not turn him over physically. Normally, the court allows that," said De Lima.

Luy went quietly to the Department of Justice on Thursday to facilitate his papers for state protection.

“We decided not to inform the media about his visit because there is a threat to his security and to avoid unnecessary attention,” Baligod said.

Luy previously worked for Napoles-owned JLN Corp., which allegedly used fake non-government organizations as beneficiaries of priority development assistance fund (PDAF) of some lawmakers.

This was done in connivance with people in several government agencies and the lawmakers, who will get a share of the illegally acquired funds. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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