Luy: Jinggoy Estrada endorsed Napoles’ fake NGO
MANILA, Philippines–Whistle-blower Benhur Luy on Tuesday revealed that detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada had signed a letter endorsing a fake nongovernment organization (NGO) owned by suspected pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles to implement a project funded by his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Luy took the witness stand Tuesday at the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division during the continuation of the court’s hearing on Estrada’s plea for bail.
In his testimony, Luy revealed that he approached Estrada during a party held two years ago at the 42nd floor of Discovery Suites in Ortigas to have the endorsement letter signed. Luy worked at Napoles’ JLN Corp. office at the 25th floor of the same building.
The party was allegedly organized by Napoles. Luy said that among the VIP guests were now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and actor Tirso Cruz III.
“Nandoon si Sen. Jinggoy, nagpapirma ako ng endorsement letter (Sen. Jinggoy was there, I had an endorsement letter signed),” said Luy.
But Estrada, who was at the hearing, immediately stood up to refute Luy’s claim but the court disallowed him and directed him to relay his reaction through his lawyers.
He got his chance to vent his feelings in a later interview with reporters.
“I cannot recall Benhur Luy ever asking me to sign a document at the party. First, I do not know him. Why should he ask me to sign if I do not know him? Only my staff and secretary ask me to sign but never him (Luy),” said Estrada.
Estrada has long admitted to attending Napoles’ parties but insisted that he never signed a document during these occasions “because that is not an appropriate time or the proper forum for me to sign a document.”
“I’ve been to several parties (of Napoles). I know her. I have admitted to the public ever since that I know Mrs. Napoles. Not like other politicians that up to now have refused to admit that they too attended these parties,” said Estrada.
Never been to their office
Estrada claimed he heard Luy claiming that he signed the endorsement letter in the office.
“That’s totally false. I have never been to their office up to this day. I go to their parties, yes, but never in their office. A party was never held in their office. If ever there was a party in their office, I never went there,” he said.
Making up stories
Estrada accused Luy of making up his stories as the plunder case dragged on as he noted that Luy never mentioned this meeting in any of his affidavits.
“He’s adding more to his tales, this is not part of his affidavit. I have never seen him, I have never spoken to him. The first time I saw him was when I watched him on TV,” said Estrada.
Estrada has been charged with plunder for pocketing P183 million in kickbacks from nonexistent projects funded by his PDAF from 2007 to 2009.
In a related development, the antigraft court junked Estrada’s petition to bar Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano from joining the Ombudsman prosecution panel in his case.
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