Luy bares different code name for Estrada
MANILA, Philippines–A former aide of detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada personally collected nearly P12 million in cash from socialite Ruby Tuason at her posh address in Makati City in 2005.
The amount was a portion of the senator’s “rebate,” or kickback, from a P30-million project that he allegedly assigned to a bogus foundation of suspected pork barrel racket mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
This was the latest revelation of primary whistle-blower Benhur Luy at Estrada’s bail hearing in the Sandiganbayan yesterday.
But what Estrada said surprised him was Luy’s disclosure that he assigned the code name “Cong. Biazon” to the senator in recording the P11.97 million in kickbacks that Estrada allegedly received.
“Cong. Biazon” apparently referred to former Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, a staunch ally of President Aquino who quit his post as customs commissioner in December last year after he was charged with graft in the Office of the Ombudsman for his alleged complicity in the P10-billion pork barrel racket.
It was the first time Luy disclosed that he used another alias for Estrada, who has been detained for allegedly pocketing more than P183 million in his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel.
Luy previously testified that Estrada, son of deposed President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, was known by his code names “Sexy,” “Kuya” and “Anak” in the financial records of Napoles’ JLN Corp.
On Monday, Luy told the antigraft court’s Fifth Division that Estrada got his commissions through Tuason, then a Napoles agent, and Pauline Labayen, the senator’s former deputy chief of staff, who has reportedly left the country.
Pointing to an entry in his ledger, Luy said Labayen went to Tuason’s house at 1564 Mahogany St. in Dasmariñas Village, Makati City, on March 15, 2005, to collect Estrada’s supposed kickback. He said the P30-million project was implemented through the Department of Agriculture for the purchase of liquid fertilizers.
During questioning by Ombudsman Special Prosecutor Ma. Christina Batacan, Luy said that as JLN finance officer, he recorded on his computer the financial transactions that Estrada had with Napoles’ nongovernment organizations (NGOs).
“I used the code names ‘Anak,’ ‘Sexy,’ ‘Kuya’ and ‘Cong. Biazon’ for the transactions of Senator Estrada,” Luy said. “I assigned the code names for the lawmakers because of the sensitivity of the transactions we had with government agencies,” he added.
But Luy, who looked confident, did not explain why he gave the “Cong. Biazon” alias to Estrada.
Seated just 3 meters away from Luy, Estrada was heard blurting out, “Sinungaling (liar).”
Speaking with reporters later, the senator said: “It’s absurd, ridiculous and preposterous that he attributed to me the commissions of Congressman Biazon. It just proves that there’s a lot of inconsistencies in the testimony of the star witness,” Estrada said.
“I wonder how these people could still sleep at night knowing that they are just telling lies. They’re now inventing these things because they know they do not have evidence against me,” he told the Inquirer.
Estrada saw something sinister in Luy’s latest disclosure, noting that it was only now that Luy made the “Cong. Biazon” statement.
“Because Congressman Biazon is an ally of the administration, the prosecution could be doing this to save him from being made accountable under the law,” the senator said.
Sought for an explanation for Luy’s use of the code name for Estrada, Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano told reporters that at that time, Biazon’s father was a senator and the son was a congressman.
“I can’t tell you if that’s a plausible explanation, but that’s what he (Luy) told me,” Justiniano said.
An entry in Luy’s records also showed that Estrada’s mother, former Sen. Loi Estrada, also received money from Napoles “care of Senator Jinggoy Estrada.”
Quizzed by Associate Justice Roland Jurado about the period when Estrada allegedly asked for higher rebates, Luy said it was “sometime between 2009 and 2010.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.