MALACAÑANG on Wednesday said Justice Secretary Leila de Limamay come up with a new vital witness from among those who stepped forward in the P10-billion pork barrel scam to offer previously unknown details.
Pressed by reporters to provide details on the identity of the potential new witness, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda replied: “I didn’t ask Secretary de Lima because of the confidentiality of the investigation.”
Edwin Lacierda made the statement after lawyer Levito Baligod had a “falling out” with Benhur Luy, one of the principal witnesses in the case.
“I spoke to Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday, ang hinahanap nila yung witnesses that can provide testimony that is not corroborative. Kung corroborative lang ang testimony mo, in all likelihood, you will not be entertained as a witness. Kasi corroborative ka na lang, pandagdag na lang sa alam na ng tao e,” Lacierda told reporters.
This means that Technology Resource Center executive Dennis Cunanan and socialite Ruby Tuason, former social secretary of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, are the last “corroborative” witnesses in the pork scam.
Lacierda explained that anyone who would want to turn witness against the principal accused such as Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr., must give new information that prosecutors still do not know about.
“If you have new information you would be considered,” Lacierda said.
Asked if he has any idea of who the new witnesses would be, the official said: “”I have no one in mind. It’s with Secretary Leila de Lima.”
Meanwhile, the Palace official said the “breakup” of Luy and Baligod will not adversely affect the strength of the case against the lawmakers and their co-accused.
“It happens in any case—in any legal case it’s possible that a lawyer may withdraw from the case for some differences. But does it diminish the strength of the case? No it does not,” Lacierda, also a lawyer, stressed.
He added that the matter between Luy and his former lawyer is “personal.”
“It was a decision taken by the client [Luy]. But I understand that Atty. Baligod continues to be the lawyer for Merlina Suñas. So he continues to be involved in the case. Nonetheless, Mr. Luy has still four lawyers and I am sure that the DOJ has taken up steps to ensure that patuloy pa rin ang legal services na bibigay kay Mr. Benhur Luy,” Lacierda pointed out.
What is important, Lacierda further explained, is that Luy’s testimony under oath has been given before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee and that his affidavit has already been submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman.
“So beyond public perception, what it is important is how the Ombudsman evaluates the case before them as filed by the DOJ. The most important thing is ano ang evaluation ng Office of the Ombudsman,” the official also said.
“Benhur Luy has testified before the Senate and if he should testify in the . . . if a case is filed before the Sandiganbayan, he would be asked to testify again and he will let the testimony at the Senate as a basis, see if he is telling the truth and it’s already a matter of public record,” he added.
In a letter he signed before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Monday, Luy confirmed that he will no longer employ the services of Baligod, who later disclosed that he was eased out by forces “out to control Luy.”
“I have noticed you were very busy with your other advocacies . . . That is why I have decided to pursue this journey even without you guiding me,” Luy said in his letter.
One of the causes of the “fall out,” it was learned, was Baligod’s refusal to drag Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory Ong into the pork scam case. The magistrate, Luy claimed, had dealings with Napoles.
For Lacierda, the issue ends with Luy’s letter terminating the services of Baligod.
“I cannot surmise as to the relationship between them. We can only go so far as the basing it on the letter that was presented to the public the reasons for the breakup of the lawyer-client relationship. But Atty. Baligod, himself, has mentioned the reason that his other advocacies is to strengthen the cases. So he is as committed even while he is no longer the lawyer for Mr. Benhur Luy. He is equally committed to see through the PDAF cases,” he said.