MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce-Enrile has allocated his funds to local government units (LGUs) only and did not authorize any of his employees to transfer funds to nongovernment organizations (NGOs), his lawyer said on Wednesday.
“Wala naman po siyang nilagdaang dokumento na iniaatas niya ang paglalaan ng pondo niya sa mga NGOs. Ang mga dokumentong pinirmahan po niya ay patungkol lamang sa paglalaan ng mga pondo nya sa mga local government units (He did not sign any document directing the use of his funds to NGOs. He only signed documents to allocate funds to local government units),” Enrile’s lawyer and spokesman, Enrique dela Cruz, said in a radio interview.
Dela Cruz said Enrile’s instruction was clear that his funds should be allocated to LGUs only.
“Kung may mga tauhan siya o empleyado na hindi sumunod rito o gumawa ng paraan para mai-divert o mailipat ang nasabing mga pondo sa mga NGO, hindi po ito ang utos ni Senator Enrile (If his people or his employees did not follow his instruction or did something to divert the funds to NGOs, Senator Enrile did not order it),” he said.
“Kaya hindi naman po siguro makatarungan na kay Senator Enrile isisi ang nasabing kamalian o paglabag sa batas (So it’s not fair to blame Enrile for this mess),” the lawyer added.
Enrile’s former chief of staff, Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, had allegedly authorized the release of millions of Enrile’s pork barrel funds to questionable NGOs linked to detained Janet Lim-Napoles.
Reyes allegedly left the country even before charges were filed against her and others involved in the alleged P10-billion “pork barrel” scam at the Office of the Ombudsman.
Dela Cruz said Enrile knew that his former chief of staff had already left the country.
On the plunder case filed at the Office of the Ombudsman against Enrile, the lawyer said there was no document that would pin down the senator or any whistleblower who had testified that they gave commissions to him.
“So wala po ang elemento ng plunder kaya po ang tingin namin ay minadali ang hilaw na kasong ito,” said dela Cruz.
It was clear, he said that the case filed against Enrile was politically-motivated, pointing to the special audit conducted by the Commission on Audit on legislators’ releases of their priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel” funds.
The COA audit, he said, only covered the pork releases from 2007 to 2009 and audited only P32 billion out of the P115 billion funds release.
Dela Cruz said the audit also mentioned 12 senators and 62 congressmen but was surprised that only three senators and several congressmen were charged before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Aside from Enrile, the DOJ also recommended the filing of plunder charges against Senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, among others.
Despite this, Enrile’s camp remained confident that the Ombudsman would conduct a fair investigation.