Bong Revilla hires handwriting expert

By Christina Mendez, The Philippine Star

Posted at Sep 21 2013 01:42 AM | Updated as of Sep 21 2013 09:42 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The office of Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. has hired a handwriting expert to examine documents purportedly signed by the senator and his staff to endorse portions of his pork barrel funds to non-government organizations linked to businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles from 2007 to 2009, his lawyer Joel Bodegon said yesterday.

Revilla, along with Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, has been charged with plunder for allegedly pocketing millions of pesos in his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in connivance with Napoles.

He is expected to deliver a privilege speech next week to debunk accusations against him and explain in detail how he had “legally” and “validly” dispensed his PDAF during the years covered by the special audit of the Commission on Audit (COA).

Based on complaints filed by the National Bureau of Investigation, Revilla allegedly pocketed over P224.5 million in kickbacks from Napoles.

Also charged were 35 other individuals, including former congressmen.

An inter-agency investigating panel led by the Department of Justice and the Office of the Ombudsman is preparing to file a petition with the Court of Appeals for the freezing of their assets.

Bodegon also said that by admitting having falsified documents for Napoles, whistle-blower Benhur Luy and the others cannot be considered credible witnesses against those charged with plunder and malversation of public funds.

Bodegon called Luy a liar for saying under oath that millions of pesos in PDAF for lawmakers ended up in the pockets of lawmakers – including Revilla – and their cohorts.

“You know the whistle-blowers themselves confessed to falsifying the documents and themselves getting the PDAF funds, albeit to say they gave the money to Napoles, which the latter vehemently denies,” Bodegon told The STAR.

“So, where’s the money? Benhur Luy and his cohorts stole it,” he added.

Luy testified last week before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee that he had personal knowledge of Napoles’ transactions, including bank account numbers. to show the extent of her involvement in the scam.

Bodegon called Luy’s statements “worthless and hearsay” and “cannot be used as basis, even for the court, to freeze assets.”

Meanwhile, the Senate Blue Ribbon committee received from the DOJ on Thursday copies of the plunder, malversation, bribery and graft complaints filed against the three senators.

Sources said COA had also complied with the committee’s order that it submit copies of the reports on the implementation of projects by some government agencies using pork barrel funds.

The Senate has also been furnished copies of the affidavits of Luy and the other whistle-blowers in the case. The documents were contained in two thick folders, sources said.