By Megan Flores as originally posted at the Philippine Online Chronicles
The whole nation has been watching the series of (unfortunate) events lately regarding the PDAF – Napoles affair. Last Monday, June 30, 2014, the Sandiganbayan entered a not guilty plea for Senator Jinggoy Estrada following his refusal to enter one himself due to his pending petitions at the Supreme Court.
The senator (and 25 co-accused) is facing a plunder case in connection with his alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations. The pork barrel scam case is one that has outraged the nation and has been hogging the headlines with each revelation.
Estrada’s Plea for Bail
Prior to the arraignment of the plunder case, Estrada’s lawyer, Jose Flaminiano, was saying that the prosecution’s case against Estrada was “very weak.’ This means, he said, that his client has a good chance of being granted bail for plunder, a non-bailable offense. Estrada’s legal team had filed a petition before the Sandiganbayan to allow the senator to post bail immediately after Estrada’s surrender last June 23.
According to Flaminiano, the prosecution has been considering making amendments to the case filed against Senator Jinggoy because it has realized their evidence is weak and insufficient. In Estrada’s prepared statement after his arraignment, Estrada mentioned that “recent developments are indicative of the fact that the cases against us were rushed and railroaded and that due process of law was not observed, especially during the preliminary investigation by the Ombudsman. Because of its overzealousness to be glorified as heroes by putting us behind bars the Ombudsman haphazardly filed an(sic) information in the Sandiganbayan.”
Evidentiary Value of the “Luy Files”
The transaction records of the JLN Corporation of Napoles from 2002-2012, kept in the computer hard disk by whistleblower Benhur Luy, has been mentioned as to be not of value for the prosecution. Those implicated in the files have claimed their signatures on the documents were forged and denied receiving kickbacks.
Soft copies of the documents also face the problem of authentication. The letters are unsigned, most are drafts of letters and agreements. Cursory glances at the documents show no clear proof or record that Estrada (and other legislators allegedly involved in the scam) had received kickbacks.
But with this liability, the “Luy Files” cannot simply be ignored. It has given us a window to see what could have transpired, and provided a “map” of what to look for.
Providing more questions on Estrada’s involvement
Ever since Senator Estrada’s name was involved in the P10B pork barrel scam, he has consistently and vehemently proclaimed his innocence. Without authenticated documents clearly indicating his involvement in the scam, he may recover from this debacle unscathed.
However, the “Luy Files” have raised some questions on his claim. This is more so after comparing the soft copy of letters with detailed projects, beneficiaries, implementing units and amounts, to DBM list of records of released funds. Initial studies and comparisons bring to light more questions with the similarities on actual funded projects vis-à-vis documents on the “Luy Files”.
Comparing Luy files data to DBM PDAF Records
Luy’s hard drive contained more than 20,000 files in around 2,000 folders. A few have already raised more questions on Estrada’s claimed “innocence.” Take the P50M project for livelihood projects for Micro Entrepreneur and small farmers under the DA taken from Estrada’s 2011 PDAF.
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Source : Pdaf.dbm.gov.ph
Among Luy’s copies of letters and agreements is one document titled DA_Endoresement_SEXY_50M.doc (unsigned). The letter refers to a 50M project with the DA for livelihood projects for micro entrepreneurs and small farmers.
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Although there is no signature or any sign of authentication on the documents, the letter certainly draws one to consider the possibility.
Another letter in the Luy Files, a document titled 2011_DAR_Sexy_General Nakar, Quezon.doc (unsigned) requests assistance from Senator Estrada for financial assistance to fund agricultural projects. It gives the particular municipality that benefited from Estrada’s PDAF, as well as identifying the NGO assigned (a Napoles-linked NGO) to oversee the fund disbursement and projects’ implementation.
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Source : Inquirer.net
A check with DBM records shows Senator Estrada allocating a portion of his PDAF in 2011 to a project providing financial assistance for the organic farming projects of micro entrepreneur and small farmers in General Nakar, Quezon.
Finding the truth among the many lies
There are days when it seems the facts are so muddled, you feel that the truth will not see the light of day and justice will never be served to those truly guilty in the pork barrel scam. And yet there are also days when everything seems so clear that the people can see through each subterfuge and close-kept secrets are ferreted out. With so many documents, statements, affidavits and the like being bandied around, there is a great chance that we will miss out the facts truly relevant to the PDAF/pork barrel scam.
The challenge today is clear. We need to be constantly asking, pushing and seeking for the truth. This is the role of the people – to keep asking and demanding for answers to the question – who are the culprits behind the wanton pilfering of the people’s money?