Enrile refutes 'pork' scam raps

By Christina Mendez, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 07 2014 01:37 AM | Updated as of Jan 07 2014 09:37 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile has formally denied the charges filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), lawyer Levito Baligod and the Field Investigation Office of the Office of the Ombudsman for his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.

Enrile filed his counter-affidavit in compliance with the order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman.

In his counter-affidavit dated Dec. 20, Enrile categorically said that the charges against him are baseless.

He also denied having any connection with alleged pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim-Napoles.

Enrile said the government’s own evidence showed that he never personally endorsed any non-government organization (NGO) involved in the reported PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) scam, whether or not connected to Napoles or any implementing agency.

He added that the only role he or his office played in the whole process was to identify specific projects to be funded under his PDAF allocation, as requested by officials of the local government units involved.

Enrile argued that the procedure is required by laws and regulations and was practiced by all legislators, charged or not. He noted that it was ridiculous to charge him for obeying the law.

He insisted it was solely the implementing agency that designated the NGOs for the purpose of implementing the PDAF-funded projects.

Citing the Supreme Court, Enrile noted that “from the regulation of fund releases, the implementation of payment schedules and up to the actual spending of the funds…” the executive takes full control of the system.”

“Should not that power also come with full responsibility and accountability?” he asked.

Enrile noted that even the Commission on Audit itself declared and admitted that the implementing agencies cannot “relegate this duty to the legislator.”

Benhur Luy et al doctored documents

In his reply, Enrile disputed the theory that he “may” have induced the agencies or the NGOs into misusing his PDAF allocation.

He noted that the documents appearing to establish his alleged involvement or that of his staff were, as admitted by the government’s own witnesses the whistle-blowers Merlina Suñas and Benhur Luy, all forged and fabricated.

Enrile alleged that he does not personally know any of the agency officials involved, nor has he ever met Napoles, socially or otherwise.

Neither he nor his staff, as the whistle-blowers testified, have been to the office of Napoles.

He has never been to a single social affair of Napoles. He added that there is not a piece of evidence, much less proof, to establish even the suspicion of conspiracy in a fair mind.

Enrile added that there is no testimonial or documentary evidence showing that he received any commissions or kickbacks. He categorically denied receiving “a centavo of ill-gotten wealth.”

All whistle-blowers admitted they never saw him receive any amount from Napoles, much less 50 percent of the PDAF fund involved, as alleged by one of the whistle-blowers.

Enrile also pointed out that Luy had sworn that he merely listed in his accounting ledger whatever Napoles instructed him to and that Luy himself admitted that he had no personal knowledge of these alleged transactions.

Enrile, a veteran lawyer, added that the source documents of any alleged payoffs to anyone were shredded and destroyed by Luy’s group, as Luy himself admitted previously in various interviews and during the Senate hearings.

The senator appealed to the public to judge the case solely on its merits, and not on their personal likes or dislikes of him.

Enrile added that while he respects the old adage that everyone, including his critics, is “entitled to their own opinions,” he does not believe that this gives them the freedom to create their own “facts.”