Robes claims Baligod was ‘paid’ to file new pork scam complaint
Bulacan Rep. Arturo Robes accused lawyer Levito Baligod of being paid by his political rival to file a complaint against him over his alleged involvement in a new pork barrel scam.
In a privilege speech at the House of Representatives plenary on Monday, Robes said Baligod was paid to represent supposed whistle-blower Bernadette Ricalde, also Robes’ former staff member.
Ricalde is one of the whistle-blowers in the latest Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam complaint filed in the Ombudsman involving Robes, his wife, Florida, and 19 other lawmakers for allegedly diverting the funds to dubious foundations for kickbacks.
Ricalde has alleged that Robes’ wife organized the two dubious NGOs Sagip Buhay and WorkPhil that purportedly received P200 million pork barrel funds from several representatives and senators.
Ricalde said the incorporators of WorkPhil are employees of Rep. Robes and Florida, while the those of Sagip Buhay were a mix of employees of Mrs. Robes and Evelyn Miranda. Miranda is one of the 15 alleged operators of dubious foundations implicated in the latest pork barrel scam complaint.
Robes turned the tables on Ricalde, who he said was fired for her questionable handling of his PDAF. He said he had entrusted Ricalde with his pork barrel funds.
Robes said Ricalde was also able to obtain several properties and a house and lot due to allegedly ill-gotten wealth derived from her purportedly anomalous PDAF transactions.
He said Baligod was paid by San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, Mayor Reynaldo San Pedro to file the complaint. Robes is set to run against San Pedro for mayor in 2016, while his wife, Florida, will vie for his legislative seat.
Robes added that Baligod was using the pork barrel scam complaint to further his aspiration for a Senate seat.
“Magkano ba ang dahilan para sa pakikipagsabwatan mo sa kanya, ‘Senator’ Baligod. Kung kaya’t malugod mong tinanggap ang pahayag ng isang taong sinungaling, palsipikador, maninirang puri, at may baluktot na kaisipan,” Robes said.
“Magkano rin ba ang tinanggap mong suhol sa kakuntsaba mong mayor na santo pa man din ang apelyido para ikaw ay mamalik mata at para tanggapin ang lahat ng kasinungalingan ni Ricalde,” he added.
Robes said he would ask Congress to investigate in aid of legislation Baligod and the alleged pay-off.
“If I will not stand as I am now before you in behalf of 20 maligned solons, then that will be tantamount to simply allowing the evil to prosper. The attack against me and the attack against 19 other representatives by Attorney Baligod is an attack against our institution,” Robes said.
“I move for the investigation of Attorney Baligod for mishandling the issue pertaining to 20 solons that he would accuse of graft or plunder,” he added.
For his part, Baligod said Robes is “outraged by the wrong reasons.”
“I urge him to ask Congress or the Ombudsman to investigate on the allegations against him and we are willing to cooperate. As a public official, Cong. Robes has the obligation to explain his side of the issues, pettiness excepted,” Baligod said in a text message.
He said he does not need anybody “to pay me to do my civic duty.”
“If he (Robes) knows anyone who paid me or has information about it, then I encourage him to reveal what he knows,” Baligod said.
Asked for his comment on Robes’ allegations that he would seek a Senate seat, Baligod said “it’s his way to discredit the messenger rather than the message.”
Ricalde also suspected Robes’ wife’s role in the murder of her husband, Romeo Ricalde, who was chief of the Northern Police District anti-drug division. Romeo was shot dead by motorcycle-riding gunmen in October 2013.
In an Inquirer report, Ricalde said her murdered husband had a recording of his conversation with Florida about the alleged anomalous transactions of WorkPhil and Sagip-Buhay, two NGOs involved in the alleged diversion of PDAF to National Agribusiness Corp.
Holding back tears, Florida said Ricalde made her appear as if she was a murderer.
“Hindi nga ako makapatay ng daga at ipis, magpapatay ako ng tao? … Definitely I have nothing to do with the murder. Hindi ako perpektong tao, pero hindi ko kayang pumatay ng kapuwa,” she said in an interview after her husband’s privilege speech.
“This is very, very unfair. Attorney Baligod, if you want to listen to the truth, just weigh everything righteously,” Florida added.
Baligod is the former counsel of Benhur Luy, who turned the tables on his former employer Janet Lim-Napoles over the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam racket.
The first set of complaints over the Napoles scam have resulted in the plunder cases filed against Napoles, Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, as well as former representatives Edgar Valdez and Rizalina Lanete.
Revilla and Estrada are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center, while Enrile was granted bail by the Supreme Court. Lanete and Valdez are detained at Camp Bagong Diwa. Meanwhile, Napoles, while detained for plunder, is also serving a life sentence for the serious illegal detention of Luy. Marc Jayson Cayabyab
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