MANILA - Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile is willing to open his bank accounts to prove that no money from either businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles or her aide, Benhur Luy, was transferred there, his lawyer said Thursday.
Atty. Enrique dela Cruz said Enrile does not need to issue a bank waiver since the the new Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) lawmakers have submitted already gives the Ombudsman the authority to check their accounts.
He said Enrile is innocent of the charges that he pocketed millions of pesos from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations.
Enrile is one of three senators facing plunder charges for allegedly funneling their PDAF to fake non-government organizations set up by businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
Dela Cruz, however, said Enrile signed endorsements of PDAF projects only to local government units and not NGOs.
"Walang iligal sa pinirmahan niya na naglalaan ng pondo sa mga LGU. Trabaho talaga niya bilang lawmaker ang maglaan ng pondo at mag-endorse. Kung sa implementation nagkaproblema, bakit si Senator Enrile ang sisisihin? Dapat yung implementing agency. Wala siyang [memorandum of agreement] o anumang dokumento na nakipagkasundo siya sa mga NGO," he said.
Enrile employees acted on their own?
The lawyer also blamed Enrile's own employees for not following the instructions of their boss.
He said Enrile cannot be sued for plunder for the actions of his subordinates.
"If Senator Enrile had employees that didn't follow or diverted the said funds to NGOs, it wasn't in compliance with Sen. Enrile's instructions, which was to allocate funds to LGUs. Wala nang alam si Sen. Enrile doon. Hindi mo naman puwede siyang kasuhan dahil sa command responsibility dahil walang command responsibility sa plunder," he added.
The Commission on Audit and whistle-blowers earlier said that some of the lawmakers' chiefs of staff/representatives signed documents on behalf of the lawmakers endorsing fake NGOs as beneficiaries of public funds. Enrile's chief of staff, Atty Gigi Reyes, and deputy chief of staff, Jose Antonio Evangelista, have been implicated in the pork barrel controversy.
Reyes left the Philippines even before the Department of Justice could file the plunder complaint against her.
The lawyer of key whistle-blower Benhur Luy earlier said whistle-blowers could prove that Reyes had regular contact with Napoles.
Dela Cruz said the office of Senator Enrile is conducting an internal investigation on the issue. The office staff has also been restructured.
Dela Cruz, however, said Enrile gave Reyes and Evangelista a blanket authority to sign documents on his behalf.
Asked if the Enrile camp is disowning the endorsements signed in Enrile's behalf by Reyes and Evangelista, dela Cruz said they have yet to see the documents.
"Ayoko ring magsalita about Reyes and Evangelista because they have their own lawyers," he said.
JPE, Bong, Jinggoy ready defense
Dela Cruz said Enrile was hospitalized because he underwent shockwave lithotripsy to get rid of stones that were blocking his urethra. He said the senator is healthy enough to withstand the long and tough legal battle ahead.
Enrile's law firm, Pecabar, will be representing Enrile. Heading a team of 23 lawyers will be Atty. Joseph Sagandoy.
Sen. Bong Revilla, meanwhile, will be represented by the Bodegon, Estorninos, Guerzon, Borje and Gozos law firm, with Atty. Joel Bodegon (who was also part of the Corona defense team) as his lead counsel.
The Revilla camp said Revilla's signatures were forged and this can be proven by a handwriting expert. Revilla is expected to give a privilege speech before his colleagues at the Senate on Monday.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada has confirmed that his legal team is also out to prove that his signatures, as well as those of his staff, were forged. He said his team has been working non-stop since the controversy broke out.
He remains confident that he will be vindicated in the end.