Whistleblowers' lawyer explains why he took on PH's biggest corruption case on pork barrel
MANILA (UPDATED) - Lawyer Levito Baligod said businesswoman Janet Napoles tried to bribe him with P40 million to settle the illegal detention case filed by his client, Benhur Luy.
He said there is no truth to the extortion allegations thrown against him by the camp of Napoles. It was the other way around, he said.
“If I may narrate, on March 23 – or barely six hours after Reynald Lim (Napoles’ brother) was arrested and Benhur was rescued – someone called me up and asked that I meet him,” Baligod told ABS-CBN’s Bottomline. It was Napoles’ lawyer, Freddie Villamor, he said.
Baligod agreed to meet with Villamor, who did not immediately say what the topic will be. He said Villamor only talked to him in Ilocano and said, “Ading (kapatid), this is Freddie Villamor, allow me to meet with you.”
It was during the meeting that Villamor allegedly offered Baligod P5 million to convince his client to just settle the illegal detention case. “I did not accept. I even told [Justice Secretary Leila de Lima] of his actuations.”
The following day, a certain “General Diaz” called him up again to set a meeting with the same lawyer. On March 25, Baligod said he again dismissed Villamor’s offer.
Thereafter, a “brother” from the Freemasonry – a retired high government official – asked for a meeting with him.
On March 27, finally, he met with Napoles at the Makati Shangri-la for the tete-a-tete set by the retired government official.
“She introduced herself as Jenny. She asked for my help to settle the case with [Luy]. But I told her this could not be allowed anymore since we have forwarded [affidavits] to the DOJ,” he said.
Baligod also explained to Napoles he felt slighted by what Villamor did. “She asked me how much I was offered, and I said it was P5 million. She said, ‘PI, it was P40 million!’ She must have thought I was asking for more.”
Baligod said that after the incident, the tables were turned against him. “Knowing Napoles’ clout, it should have been easy for her to set an entrapment against me if the extortion allegations were true,” he said.
Asked for her comment, Napoles' lawyer Lorna Kapunan said: "I have nothing to say. I will not stoop down to his level. I will not react to slime."
Baligod said one of the reasons why he does not want Napoles anymore to appear in the Senate investigations is because of her alleged propensity to lie. “Her reputation for truthfulness is in question. If she will testify, should we be expecting she will tell the truth?”
Despite the allegations against him, Baligod said he will no longer engage Kapunan in name-calling. Kapunan earlier described him as an “ambulance chaser” who supposedly seeks clients.
“That’s the worst name you can call a colleague…Our nation now is engaged in very serious and important issues. I want to bring the level of discourse higher…This is the reason I have not answered back,” Baligod said.
He said the most important task now is to face the cases, which already includes the plunder raps filed against Napoles and several senators and to see these to their very end.
What will he get from all these? Baligod said it’s about love of country and not not about fame.
He said the case was dumped on his lap at a time when he was grieving for his wife, who died in February. “I had to focus on something.”
“We should redefine who the Filipino is…As a member of the UP Vanguard, it should be about country above self. If the Philippines was in war, I already have my combat fatigue and gun ready. I’m willing to leave my family behind,” Baligod said.