SENATOR Jinggoy Estrada on Thursday said that accusation hurled against him regarding his supposed involvement in the so called pork barrel scam is just part of a high-level political ploy against the opposition in preparation for the 2016 national elections.
In his counter affidavit Estrada in response to the charges filed against him by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and lawyer Levito Baligod, Estrada also denied any participation or knowledge in the transfer of any amounts forming part of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation to anyone other than the legally intended beneficiaries.
Estrada also denied receiving any amount from businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles or any person associated with her or the non-government organizations (NGOs) linked to her.
“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 stated in his counter-affidavit.
Estrada said 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 also 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.
Estrada also cited instances wherein the so-called whistleblowers confessed about their extensive falsification of documents and forgery of signatures during one of the blue ribbon committee hearings on the PDAF controversy.
Estrada maintained that as a duly-elected legislator, he has no hand in the implementation of the projects under the PDAF, and that his participation is limited to identifying a project from a menu of projects for funding as provided by law.
The lawmaker also explained 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,” he added.
Even COA in its special audit report on the PDAF 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.
Estrada also defended his former secretary Pauline Labayen, who is among those accused of plunder, saying there is no probable cause to hold her for plunder.
He maintained that never instructed or persuaded any of his staff to commit and participate in any illegal act, specifically in any irregular and unlawful transaction involving my PDAF allocation. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA