Palace tells Revilla: Answer charges first
MANILA, Philippines – A Malacañang Palace aide said Saturday Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. should first refute the plunder charge against him before threatening to file counter-charges against Benhur Luy and other whistle-blowers in the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly engineered by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
Palace spokeswoman Abigail Valte said nothing prevented Revilla from filing counter-charges, “but what matters really is, we’re waiting to hear the answers to the charges.”
“Before they file charges against other people, they should first answer the (charges) before the proper venue,” Valte added. “What is being alleged is that they coursed (pork barrel funds) through the Napoles NGOs,” and there are allegations of lawmakers getting kickbacks from these “ghost projects.”
The National Bureau of Investigation filed plunder complaints last month against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Revilla, and Napoles for allegedly receiving a total of P581,140,750 in kickbacks when they supposedly allowed Napoles to use their pork barrel entitlements.
The NBI alleged that Revilla received P224,512,500, Enrile P172,834,500, and Estrada, P183,793,750.
Thirty-four others were charged, as well, for taking part in an illegal scheme to channel allocations from the congressional pork barrel, or the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) and other state funds into ghost projects through dummy nongovernmental organizations.
On Monday, the camp of Revilla said it was preparing a counter-charge of plunder against Luy, other whistle-blowers and the heads of state implementing agencies allegedly involved in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
“We will file it directly at the Office of the Ombudsman once we complete the documents,” Revilla’s lawyer Joel Bodegon said.
Bodegon defended his principal, saying that “if there was plunder, it was not committed by Senator Revilla but by the whistle-blowers and heads of the implementing agencies.”
“Where did the money go? Of course, it was they who got it,” he said.
Revilla’s camp maintained that his signatures and documents used to transact with NGOs linked to Napoles had been forged.
However, Bodegon said the senator would not include Napoles in the complaint since he said his client had no dealings with the alleged mastermind behind the scam.
Revilla’s camp also denounced Technology Resource Center director Dennis Cunanan for “falsely accusing” the lawmaker of direct involvement in the P10-billion pork barrel scam in exchange for being discharged as a state witness and escape prosecution.
Cunanan, who was included in the first batch of respondents charged in connection with the scam, has said in an affidavit that some lawmakers personally confirmed their signatures on documents endorsing fake NGOs as recipients of their pork barrel entitlements.
“Did he not offer himself as a state witness after being charged before the Ombudsman? Now, he’s suddenly making baseless statements,” Bodegon said.
Cunanan singled out Revilla who he said even scolded him for the delay in the release of his PDAF funds to the NGO that he had chosen.
“TRC Director Dennis Cunanan is lying through his teeth. His recent statement is clearly an afterthought,” Bodegon said.
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