MANILA - The lawyer-client relationship between Levito Baligod and Benhur Luy had been deteriorating for quite some time before the whistleblower finally dropped him this week, a counsel for the other pork barrel scam whistleblowers said on Tuesday.
Speaking to radio dzMM, Atty. Stephen Cascolan said Luy felt he was no longer the top priority of Baligod.
"Their working relationship from what we see, because we see each other every time there are meetings or hearings, parang hindi na ganun ka-healthy as it was in the beginning," Cascolan said.
"From what we've been seeing, siguro may napapansin si Benhur na hindi na siya ang priority ni Atty. Baligod," he added.
He also confirmed that Baligod has been "very busy," as what was earlier said by Luy in his letter to his former lawyer.
Cascolan, who is the counsel for whistleblowers Marina Sula, Monette Briones and Arlene Baltazar, revealed that Luy's relationship with Baligod started to turn sour as early as last year.
"Yung actual termination, [narinig ko] 2 days pa lang. Pero yung relationship siguro po last year pa nakikita yung gradual," he said.
Cascolan said he has an "idea" about Luy's real reasons for dropping Baligod, but declined to give further details.
"Sa totoo lang po may idea kami pero hindi po namin alam yung talagang official na dahilan na gustong sabihin ni Benhur... Ano po eh, mahirap po i-explain. Kasi hindi po maganda sabihin against a fellow lawyer," he explained.
Luy, in his one-page letter to Baligod dated March 3, said: "It has been a rough and rugged road for us, and for all you have done, I am eternally thankful. However, I have noticed you were very busy with your other advocacies that is why I have decided to pursue this journey even without you guiding me. It will not be easy through but this will mutually benefit us in the end."
"With deep gratitude for our friendship, I formally release you from any obligation and/or contract to litigate on my behalf and to represent me as legal counsel effective today, 03 March 2014," he said.
'Witnesses are solid'
Meanwhile, Cascolan assured that the departure of Baligod will not affect the charges filed in connection with the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam case.
He said the whistleblowers and witnesses remain "solid."
"Wala namang pagkakawatak-watak... Wala pong nagbabago sa posisyon, sa stand ng witnesses natin na pinapangunahan ni Benhur," he said.
He also stressed that there is nothing wrong with Luy's decision to drop Baligod, noting that it is a client's right to terminate any of his counsels.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada, one of three senators facing plunder charges before the Ombudsman in connection with the scam, claimed that Luy's dropping of Baligod is an indication that the camp of the whistleblowers is already "disintegrating."
"In my own opinion, they are crumbling," Estrada told reporters.
"Tingin ko parang nagdi-disintegrate na sila," he said, but quickly added that he is not aware of the reason why Luy fired Baligod as counsel.