Baligod: I was eased out by forces out to control Luy
MANILA, Philippines — “Someone wants to control Benhur Luy,’’ said Levito Baligod, the lawyer fired by Luy, the principal whistle-blower in the P10-billion pork barrel scam that linked lawmakers and 38 other personalities.
“And I will be a hindrance to that,’’ Baligod the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a telephone interview when he was asked why Luy fired him as legal counsel.
Baligod declined to identify the person who supposedly “controls’’ Luy, but promised to reveal it soon.
He said he last talked to Luy two weeks ago.
“We talked about the illegal detention case hearing and after that, he stopped taking my calls and did not reply to my text messages,” Baligod said. The serious illegal detention case was the one filed by Luy against businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged brains of the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
In the same interview, he denied Luy’s accusations that he was remiss in his performing his duties to him as counsel.
“I was never negligent of my professional obligations to him, and I have solved his legal problems. He no longer needs my services because everything now is in place,’’ Baligod said when asked to comment on his firing.
He then enumerated his accomplishments as Luy’s lawyer.
He said he was the one who facilitated the rescue of Luy from detention by his aunt and former employer, JLN chief Janet Lim Napoles, through coordination with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and the National Bureau of Investigation.
He added that charges have been filed against Napoles and scores of people, including three senators for the pork barrel scam. Napoles is now in jail for the serious illegal detention case.
Baligod pointed out that he was able to ensure the admission of Luy and his family into the Witness Protection Program.
He recalled that the slander case filed against Luy had been dismissed and “Benhur is not exposed to any legal risk.’’
When asked about Luy’s complaint that he did not have enough time for him, Baligod said: “I cannot at all times be with him because I also have to attend to some cases, and in those times that I could not be around, I asked two colleagues to assist him,’’ Baligod said.
He said the legal work he needed to do for Luy was already complete and he has met his professional obligations to him.
“The work with Benhur is done except for his appearance at the trial, all his records and evidence had been submitted for forensic examination,’’ Baligod explained.
When asked to explain the “advocacies” that had supposedly distracted him from his legal services to Luy, Baligod said, “These advocacies are to ensure accountability and attend to other aspects of the case like the two new witnesses,’’ Baligod said.
He explained that as complainant of the case, he must work to plug the loopholes and secure the chain of evidence.
“The cases have three stages, and the first two had already been addressed. These were to link Napoles and the lawmakers and now the implementing agencies, which can be provided by the new witnesses like Dennis Cunanan and the two others,’’ he said.
“Benhur’s knowledge was limited to what he had testified. He did not have personal knowledge on the extent of the participation of the heads of implementing agencies,’’ Baligod said.
He also said that he had not received the letter of Luy telling him that he had discharged him as his lawyer.
“I have not received the letter, which was supposed to be for me, but I have disregarded my personal feelings because we are facing a more serious problem of accountability,’’ Baligod said.
“I will not tackle the issue of my personal feelings, because the issue transcends personal biases, emotions and idiosyncrasies. The issue is for the entire nation and I am afraid all efforts could be hijacked due to personal needs,’’ Baligod said.
Baligod, however, expressed confidence, that plunder cases filed against Napoles and the lawmakers would not be affected by his replacement as lawyer of the principal witnesses.
He said that he would continue to be a private complainant and would be the lawyer of new witnesses.
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