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Ex-SolGen Mendoza calls mayors’ testimonies vs Revilla ‘void, hearsay’

/ 03:01 PM August 03, 2017

Detained former senator Bong Revilla and wife, Bacoor City Mayor Lani Mercado, confer, on Jan. 12, 2017, with his defense team’s newest collaborator: legal heavyweight and former Solicitor-General Estelito Mendoza [center]. (PHOTO BY VINCE F. NONATO/ INQUIRER)

Former solicitor general Estelito Mendoza dismissed as “void” and “hearsay” the testimonies of local government officials who denied receiving the pork barrel funds projects of former senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.

Mendoza made this statement during Revilla’s plunder trial Thursday over his alleged involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

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During the trial, Pangasinan Vice Governor Jose Ferdinand Calimlim testified that he did not receive any pork barrel fund projects from Revilla’s office when he was municipal mayor of Mapandan.

Prosecutors fielded Calimlim to testify about a 2013 interview of him by graft investigators on the alleged delivery of Revilla’s pork barrel projects, which Calimlim denied receiving for the municipality.

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“I was asked questions… if we had transactions with the NGO and with the office of senator Revilla… I automatically said no, especially pertaining to the NGO. We had no dealings or transactions,” Calimlim said on the witness stand.

He also denied signing the delivery reports and the certificate of acceptance of Revilla’s PDAF projects from a bogus foundation, comparing his own signature with that of the supposed forged signature.

“I know my own signature, and this is not mine,” Calimlim said when shown the documents signed with a forged signature.

Other local government officials also denied their signatures on documents that showed the municipalities received the ghost projects: Tumauini, Isabela Mayor Arnold Bautista, and Piat, Cagayan Vice Mayor Leonel Guzman.

The former solicitor general Mendoza made a continuing objection during the trial that the testimonies about the supposed bogus NGOs are “mere hearsay” because the mayors had no personal knowledge that there are ghost projects, which were certified to them by their municipal agriculturists, budget officer and treasurer.

Mendoza said the witnesses only knew about the bogus foundations from the graft investigators who interviewed them.

He added that Revilla’s name does not even appear in the presented documents, and that the plunder information only alleges Revilla’s mere “endorsement” of the foundations, and not the use of his PDAF to the ghost projects.

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Mendoza also pointed out that the plunder information does not accuse Revilla that the “funds from Senator Revilla were given to anybody.”

“All of these interviews are invalid. They are made on a false premise. These interviews were derogatory to Senator Revilla. All of these interviews are void based on a false premise,” Mendoza said.

Responding to Mendoza’s defense, lead prosecutor Joefferson Toribio said the local government officials’ testimonies only corroborate the previous testimony during Revilla’s bail hearing of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy.

“The testimony of Benhur Luy and the other whistleblowers perfectly jibe with what we are presenting now… These confirm the testimonies of the whistleblowers. They are corroborating the testimonies of the whistleblowers,” Toribio said.

Revilla is charged with plunder for allegedly pocketing P224.5 million in kickbacks from ghosts projects using his PDAF. He surrendered and has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center since 2014.

Also detained for plunder is Revilla’s former colleague, Jinggoy Estrada, who is accused of pocketing P183.7-million in kickbacks. Former senator Juan Ponce Enrile is also accused of receiving P172.8-million but is out on bail for humanitarian reasons.

The alleged mastermind of the PDAF scam, Janet Lim Napoles, is detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. JE

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TAGS: Estelito Mendoza, favors of office, PDAF, Priority Development Assistance Fund, Ramon Revilla Jr.
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