• Blue ribbon fails to get Benhur files

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    THE Senate blue ribbon committee failed to get digital records that it had requested from pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy and was even advised by Luy to direct its request to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which is keeping the files.

    In a letter addressed to Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, chairman of the blue ribbon committee, Luy’s lawyer Raymund Joseph Mendoza informed the senator that a copy of the digital records related to the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or pork barrel scam had already been submitted by his client to the NBI cybercrime division and it would be more prudent to refer any subpoena to the agency.

    Mendoza said they have also informed the NBI of the subpoena issued by the blue ribbon committee to their client in order for them to take the appropriate action regarding the request.

    Luy was supposed to turn over a copy of the digital files to the Guingona committee on Wednesday but he did not show up.

    Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said the Senate cannot force Luy to submit the files if he really does not have them, adding that the committee should reissue a subpoena and direct it to the NBI.

    Cayetano expressed belief that the digital files of Luy can answer all questions about the PDAF scam and the individuals who supposedly benefited from it.

    Like the lists earlier obtained by the Senate blue ribbon committee, he said, the Luy files should also be disclosed to the public regardless of the names of senators and congressmen included in it, in order to give them a chance to respond.

    “I don’t care if our names will be mentioned in the files, at least we can answer it head-on,” Cayetano added.

    Sen. Sergio Osmena 3rd, vice chairman of the blue ribbon panel, said if Guingona wants to expedite submission of the Luy files, he should ask the NBI what the Senate could do for it to deliver the subpoena.

    “And if the NBI says, ‘Send [us]a subpoena’, then the committee will send them a subpoena,” he added.

    Aside from the Luy files, the committee is also expecting the submission of the signed affidavit of suspected “pork” barrel fund scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

    De Lima was supposed to submit the affidavit on May 15, but the Justice secretary asked Guingona for a one-week extension since the affidavit, she said, is still being completed by Napoles.

    Meanwhile, a senator accused of profiting from the PDAF scam suffered a setback when the Supreme Court (SC) also on Wednesday refused to stop the Office of the Ombudsman from investigating him.

    Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada had petitioned the court for a temporary restraining order against the Office of the Ombudsman that would have prevented the office from inquiring into his alleged amassing of millions from the scam.

    Also named respondents were the NBI and lawyer Levito Baligod, who acted as complainant.

    The 15-man High Court gave the respondents 10 days to file their comment. It is now on recess for its decision-writing month.

    Estrada filed the petition after the Ombudsman failed to furnish him copies of several documents in connection with the complaints against him.

    He said he needed the documents for his defense.

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