Cong. Biazon’s name comes up in bail hearing
MANILA, Philippines–Who is the real “Cong. Biazon”?
Whistle-blower Merlina Suñas on Monday told the Sandiganbayan former Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon had dealings with Janet Lim-Napoles, alleged mastermind of the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Continuing her testimony in the bail hearing of detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, Suñas said Biazon recommended projects to be funded by his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, to Napoles’ bogus foundations from 2007 to 2009.
Her latest testimony in the antigraft court’s Fifth Division contradicted the claim of primary whistle-blower Benhur Luy who earlier told court that “Cong. Biazon” was a code name Napoles had given to Estrada.
Suñas, who had helped Napoles in her transactions with the government since 1994, admitted she had never met Estrada and that she never handed money to the senator as his alleged kickbacks in the multibillion-peso scam.
During her cross-examination by defense counsel Dennis Buenaventura, one of Napoles’ lawyer, Suñas said there were several legislators who funneled their PDAF allotments to Napoles-owned nongovernment organizations.
“Is Cong. Ruffy Biazon one of them? Yes?” Buenaventura asked the witness.
Suñas, who had previously looked calm and confident on the witness stand, paused for a few moments before answering.
“For what project?” she replied.
This prompted the defense lawyer to remind her that she had been asked “very similar questions” during her testimony in the different Sandiganbayan divisions handling the plunder and graft cases against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla.
“Pause and think about it,” Buenaventura told Suñas.
“Ruffy Biazon had projects with (Napoles) from 2007 to 2009,” Suñas said.
“Is it possible that the name of Congressman Biazon and his transactions were in the hard drive of Benhur Luy?” he asked.
To which she replied, “Yes, sir.”
Asked if Biazon’s father, former senator and now Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, also had transactions with Napoles, she said she could not recall.
A close friend and political ally of President Aquino, the younger Biazon quit his post as commissioner at the Bureau of Customs after he was implicated in the PDAF scam in December 2013.
Speaking with reporters after the hearing, Estrada said Suñas’ testimony only showed “how inaccurate their statements were.”
“I believe in Suñas’ testimony when she said that Congressman Biazon had transactions with Napoles and that ‘Cong. Biazon’ is not my alias as testified to by Benhur Luy,” Estrada said.
“The statements of Luy and Suñas are contradicting,” he added.
But Special Prosecutor Jacinto de la Cruz said the “Cong. Biazon” listed in Luy’s ledgers was different from the actual dealings that Biazon had with Napoles.
In her testimony, Suñas also admitted that she had forged the signatures of about 600 individuals and that she had falsified some 100 documents.
“So you lied 600 times. What changed now? How can we know that you are telling the truth now?” Buenaventura asked.
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