De Lima to Binay: Don't belittle our work on scam

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 10 2014 12:28 PM | Updated as of Feb 10 2014 08:28 PM

MANILA - Why is Vice-President Jejomar Binay scoffing at the work of the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation on the P10 billion pork barrel scandal?

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Monday said she is saddened by a news report that the second top official of the land seemed to be belittling the government investigation into the scandal involving Janet Lim Napoles.

Binay earlier described as a "dud" the testimony of scam respondent-turned-state witness Ruby Tuason against Binay's allies, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada. This ran counter to De Lima's earlier statement that Tuason's testimony against Enrile and Estrada was a "slam dunk."

"Well, he (Binay) is entitled to his opinion and I respect his opinion. Ang parang nakakalungkot lang is instead of encouraging us to further strengthen evidence, [instead of] encouraging us to pursue what we are doing now ay minamaliit nila. Bini-bellitle or they're even scoffing at our evidence," de Lima said.

"So bakit ho ganun? Hindi ba dapat interesado tayo sa mga kasong ito? Hindi ba ho dapat tayo ay, you know, to pray and hope na meron talagang mangyari sa mga kasong ito, so dapt po sinusuportahan po kami, ini-encourage po kami, hindi po yung pinagtatawanan or being scoffed at. Dapat po ini-inspire nila kami na lalo na palakasin lalo yung aming mga kaso... huwag sana ganoon practically scoffing at our evidence," she added.

In a news conference on Friday, the justice chief said Tuason's testimony could seal the fate of Enrile, Estrada and Enrile's former aide, Atty. Gigi Reyes, in the plunder case they are facing before the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly receiving huge sums of money as kickbacks from businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged brains behind the scam.

Tuason returned to the country on the same day and filed her sworn statement with the anti-graft office, detailing her role in the alleged siphoning of Enrile and Estrada's Priority Development Assistace Funds (PDAF) to Napoles' bogus non-government organizations (NGOs).

She claimed she personally delivered millions in cash as kickbacks to Estrada and Reyes, for her boss, Enrile.

"Matatawag natin itong (Tuason's testimony) slam dunk evidence," De Lima was quoted as saying in that news conference.

Binay was quoted in several news reports to have said that Tuason's "dud" testimony could not demolish the embattled lawmakers.

TUASON TO REVEAL MORE ABOUT MALAMPAYA SCAM ROLE

Pressed for more details about Tuason's revelation that Atty. Jess Santos, former lawyer of ex-First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, received huge sums of money from the Malampaya Fund mess, De Lima said Tuason will further explain her claim before the appropriate forum.

"I was just citing what is stated in the counter-affidavit [of Tuason], so ang makakapag-explain talaga niyan is si Mrs. Tuason in due tine kung saan siya tatanungin tungkol doon in an official proceedings probably.'

"Wala po akong iniimbento doon sa sinabi ko na gist [of Tuason's testimony] kasi based lahat yun sa affidavit," De Lima said.

Tuason is set to appear before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Feb. 13 for the continuation of hearings on the committee's inquiry into the "pork barrel" scam.