Benhur Luy transacted with Jinggoy aide, pork scam witness tells Sandigan
MANILA, Philippines—Principal whistle-blower Benhur Luy transacted with the aide of Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada using one of the foundations linked to Janet Lim-Napoles, a witness in the pork barrel scam told the Sandiganbayan on Friday.
During the bail hearing of accused mastermind Napoles, Merlina Suñas said Luy had asked her to allow him to use the People’s Organization for Progress and Development Foundation (POPDFI) in his transactions with Pauline Labayen, Estrada’s deputy chief of staff who fled her plunder raps over the scam.
Suñas said Luy and Labayen opened an account in Maybank for the transactions with POPDFI. Luy is also president of another Napoles nongovernment organization Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation.
Suñas admitted to receiving P50,000 in kickbacks from the supposed transactions.
“I don’t know if those were his own transactions,” Suñas said on allegations that Luy has his own scam to compete that of Napoles.
“As far as I can recall, Benhur gave me P50,000. That happened only once,” she said.
Napoles’ defense team alleged that Luy transacted with Labayen in projects for beneficiaries of Balungao and San Carlos City, Pangasinan.
Suñas said she did not know if Luy’s transactions involved public funds.
In a board resolution, Suñas as POPDFI president authorized Flor Villanueva as representative of the foundation in the said transactions.
Napoles, at the sidelines of the hearing, pointed to Villanueva as Luy’s alleged secretary in his own scam.
“Sila ‘yung gumagawa ng iligal (They’re the ones involved in illegal activities),” Napoles said.
Suñas earlier told the court of the rift between Luy and Napoles, which started when Napoles read text messages between Luy and a certain “Flor” about starting their own scam without Napoles’ knowledge.
“‘P*tang ina mo Benhur. Kaya pala ako nawawalan ng pondo (Benhur you son of a b*tch. So that’s why I’m losing money),’” Suñas quoted Napoles as saying.
When Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang asked Suñas why she did not inform Napoles about Luy’s transactions, Suñas said she did not have the will to rat him out.
“Did you not feel compelled as an employee to tell?” Tang asked Suñas.
“I asked Benhur then, ‘Does madam (Napoles) know about this?’ He said no,” Suñas said.
“I did not have the guts to tell madam so she also got mad at me,” she added.
Suñas had told the court that Luy and Napoles had a rift when Napoles found out Luy was having his own transactions behind her back.
Suñas had also said Napoles got mad at her for refusing to confess that she was also part of Luy’s scam. “Sayang ang pinagsamahan natin (Our friendship has gone to waste),” Napoles supposedly told Suñas, whom she had known when she was a contractor for the Philippine Navy where Suñas worked.
Luy turned whistle-blower against Napoles after he was rescued from serious illegal detention. Napoles allegedly detained Luy on suspicions that he was starting his own scam.
Before they turned whistle-blowers, Luy and Suñas were part of the alleged scheme of using lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Funds in ghost projects for kickbacks.
Napoles and five other lawmakers are detained for plunder over the scam.
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