Jinggoy: Whistleblowers' camp 'disintegrating'

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 04 2014 05:43 PM | Updated as of Mar 05 2014 01:43 AM

MANILA - Senator Jinggoy Estrada thinks that Benhur Luy's reported dropping of Attorney Levito Baligod as counsel is an indication that the camp of the whistle-blower is "disintegrating."

"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.

"That's their internal problem. Hindi ko alam kung bakit tinanggal ni Benhur Luy si Attorney Baligod. Siguro mayroon silang hindi pagkakaunawaan, meron silang hindi pinagkakaintindihan."

In a one-page letter to Baligod dated March 3, Luy said he came up with the decision because Baligod has been too busy attending to "other advocacies."

"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 though 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," Luy said.

Meanwhile, Estrada said he is confident that he would be able to refute allegations that he misused his pork barrel allocation.

"Of course, 'pag hindi sila organized, syempre plus points sa amin 'yun. Good for us. Pero kahit intact pa rin sila, good for us pa rin dahil mahina ang ebidensya nila laban sa amin," he said.

Estrada, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla are among 38 individuals facing plunder, bribery and malversation charges before the Office of the Ombudsman for their alleged links to the P10 billion pork barrel scam.

Whistle-blowers including Luy said pork scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles conspired with lawmakers and government officials in implementing agencies to funnel billions of pesos in priority development assistance funds (PDAF) to non-government organizations she set up. A Commission on Audit report said Napoles NGOs got over P2 billion in PDAF from 2007-2009.

Enrile, meanwhile, declined to comment on the decision of Luy to drop Baligod.

"I do not comment on the problem of the other side," Enrile told reporters.

For his part, Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero is interested to know the reason why Luy has dropped Baligod.

He said he will ask Luy about it when the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee convenes on Thursday for the continuation on the hearings on the pork scam.

"Well isa siguro yan sa mga tanong na marapat ipukol pagdating ng pagdinig sa Huwebes. Pero sa ilalim ng batas position of confidence ang abogado ng isang kliyente at anytime pwedeng alisin at palitan ng isang kliyente ang kanyang abogado kung wala na siyang kumpiyansa. Tulad ng opisyal na rason na ginagamit niya ay tila masyado nang abala sa ibang mga bagay 'yung kanyang abogado. So nasasaklaw ng karapatan ni Benhur Luy yan bilang isang kliyente, ang pagpalit at pagpili ng kanyang abogado," Escudero said.

He also said he does not believe the development will affect the pork barrel cases.