Estrada denies link to PDAF scam

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Thursday, January 9, 2014


SENATOR Jinggoy Estrada filed Thursday his counter-affidavit refuting his alleged involvement in the multibillion peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam allegedly masterminded by Janet Napoles.

Estrada, along with Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile, Napoles and 34 others are facing plunder charges before the Ombudsman.

In his counter-affidavit, Estrada denied that he amassed, accumulated or acquired ill-gotten wealth and said that he has no participation or knowledge in the transfer of any amounts forming part of his PDAF allocation to anyone other than its legally intended beneficiaries.

He also further said that he did not receive any amount from Napoles or any person associated with her or the non-government organizations (NGOs) she supposedly owned or controlled.

"I believe that these are nothing more than a high-level political ploy to undermine the opposition of which I am part in light of the coming 2016 national elections," Estrada said.

The senator lamented that the charges leveled against him are not supported by hard facts and evidence, but merely by bare allegations of secondhand information, hearsay, malicious suspicion and speculations.

He further noted that the government witnesses even explicitly admitted in various instances that they have no personal knowledge of the supposed transaction between him and Napoles. Witnesses for the complainants confessed under oath in Senate inquiries of their extensive falsification of documents and forgery of signatures.

Estrada reiterated that as a legislator, he has no hand in the implementation of the projects under the PDAF, and that his participation was limited to identifying a project from a menu of projects for funding as provided by law.

Estrada asserted that his endorsements of certain NGOs from a limited list of duly and previously accredited NGOs were “recommendatory at best” with the choice of NGO still left to the implementing agency.

“These endorsements merely reflected the choice of intended project beneficiaries and was based on the willingness of the NGO to undertake the chosen project, and subject to compliance with existing accounting and auditing rules and regulations,” Jinggoy pointed out.

Estrada also noted how the Commission on Audit (COA) in its special audit report on the PDAF clearly stated that it is the implementing agency’s responsibility to look into the feasibility of the project proposals and the qualifications of the NGOs proposed to be involved in the projects.

"Had there been any objections or problem with respect to the endorsements made for the NGOs, I should have received word from the implementing agency or the COA which conducts post-audits of the projects. I received none," he said.

Estrada also defended his former appointments secretary Pauline Labayen, who is among those accused of plunder, saying there is no probable cause to hold her for plunder.

"At no time did I instruct or persuade any of my staff to commit and participate in any illegal act, specifically in any irregular and unlawful transaction involving my PDAF allocation, nor did I order or influence them to receive any commission, kickbacks or rebates from Napoles, Benhur Luy, and their associates," Jinggoy also said.

The charges against Estrada and others were filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and lawyer Levito Baligod. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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