De Lima: Benhur should explain file deletions
MANILA - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima wants Benhur Luy, the primary whistle-blower in the pork barrel scam, to explain the deletions in the hard drive where he kept records of the anomaly supposedly operated by his former boss, Janet Lim-Napoles.
De Lima yesterday said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which took custody of Luy and his computer files even before the issue broke last year, had nothing to do with the deletions.
“It’s Benhur and his counsel who are in the best position to explain those deletions. That hard disk drive belongs to him,” she said.
Luy has dropped his lawyer, Levito Baligod, over “differences” in handling the pork barrel scam cases.
The justice secretary said the NBI could not be made to explain why several entries – including code names supposedly pertaining to lawmakers and officials allied to President Aquino – were removed from the files.
In the first place, she said it was the NBI that discovered and revealed the deletions when it submitted the files to the Senate so the bureau cannot be accused of sanitizing the records to cover up administration allies involved in the scam.
“The NBI had nothing to do with those deletions. As a matter of fact, it’s NBI, specifically the Cybercrime Division, which I tasked to do the examination or authentication of that hard disk drive, which detected those deletions,” De Lima said.
“I understand though that those deletions have been retrieved. So, any insinuation of sanitizing on our (DOJ/NBI) part is completely baseless. As I previously stated, we will never do that,” she added.
De Lima, who is heading the government’s fact-finding probe on the pork barrel scam, issued the statement after several lawmakers sought explanation from the NBI on the deleted files of Luy.
Among them was Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Dasmariñas City in Cavite, a senior administration lawmaker.
Barzaga said that since Luy’s hard drive was turned over to the NBI, critics might claim that the agency made the deletions to hide the names of officials allegedly involved in the anomaly.
The deleted files were discovered by NBI probers before Luy’s hard drive was submitted to the Senate Blue Ribbon committee.
Probers were able to retrieve the files, which included code names like “Tanda,” “Pogi,” “Sexy,” “Bonget,” “Dahon,” “Bigboy,” “Bonjing,” “RAD Secretary” and “Commission on Appointments.”
The deleted files also mentioned surnames like Marcos, Sotto, Dangwa, Ochoa, Pangandaman, Ungab, Fuentebella, Valdez, Chiongbian, Rodriguez, Sandoval, Serapio, Lanete, Nieva, Jose and Evangelista.
There were also files that do not refer to specific people like All Soul’s Day, “Holy Holy Holy,” “Hail O Mary,” “Priests Authority” and “Pinoy Requests.”
P400-M AMWSLAI investments
Meanwhile, Napoles had invested around P400 million to the Air Material Wing Savings and Loan Association Inc. (AMWSLAI) from June 30, 2008 to April 10, 2011, records culled from the hard drive of Luy revealed.
Napoles, who started as supplier of Kevlar helmets to the Armed Forces prior to her involvement in the pork barrel scam, allegedly earned as much as P110 million for the investments, which had a two-year maturity period.
In one of Luy’s ledgers, there is a record of transactions of investments of Napoles with AMWSLAI that was established as a mutual fund relief system for members limited to organic personnel of the 410th Air Material Wing or the Air Force counterpart unit of the Army’s Infantry Division.
Luy’s records showed that Napoles placed investments under various names, including Luy himself and his mother, Gertrudes, Rosita Kawson, Vanessa Eman and Bong de Asis for two years and got around 13 percent interest rate.
Records showed that P25 million each were made under code “15” and Kawson on June 30, 2008. The two accounts earned P13 million in interests distributed semi-annually to the accounts of Jo-Chris Trading on July 5, 2010.
The amount reached P1.625 million at 6.5 percent interest semi-annually.
Napoles also placed P25-million investment under Gertrudes’ name on April 15, 2009; and two other accounts with P10 million investment on the same date. Another P5 million was made for another account on the same day, making a total of P50-million placements. The investment supposedly earned P19.5 million in total interest, Luy’s ledger showed.
On Oct. 22, 2009, a total of P100 million was placed under the accounts of Eman, Luy and two more coded accounts. The investment with AMWSLAI earned P26 million in total interest.
Records also showed that P100 million each were invested under “WMV” and Bong de Asis, getting as much as 6.5 percent interest for two years.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV proposed yesterday the creation of an independent Truth Commission that will handle the pork barrel scam probe.
A Truth Commission can be tasked to do an open hearing on the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund so that it can be more independent (than the Senate), Trillanes said.
The proposal is similar to the Feliciano Commission, which was created by former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to look into the military adventurists’ call for reform at the Armed Forces.
Trillanes said reputable members of society such as members of the media, academe and retired justices may be tapped to look deeper into the pork barrel scam and the Malampaya Fund mess.
Interviewed over dzBB radio, the senator noted that the pork barrel scam has distracted the Senate from its primary role to oversee other functions of the government.
“The Senate cannot do this full time because we cannot work properly. There is also a cloud of doubt since there are many senators who have been implicated,” he said.
While the Senate has addressed remedial legislation such as banning the use of non-government organizations, Trillanes said the Senate can still pursue its probe “in aid of public information” until a Truth Commission is created.
He said Napoles and Luy should be summoned anew to the Senate hearing. –With Christina Mendez