MANILA (Mabuhay) – Reveal your sources.
This was the challenge hurled Thursday by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to Senator Jinggoy Estrada as she denied the latter’s allegation that her subordinate is giving instructions to whistleblowers to pin down the three senators implicated in the pork barrel scam.
In an interview with reporters in Manila, De Lima maintained that her department never coached any of the whistleblowers in the multi-billion fund scam.
“May I challenge Senator Jinggoy to disclose who those unimpeachable sources are. Kasi hindi nga totoo iyon kung mayroon ngang source o sources, nagsisinungaling yung sources na iyan,” she said.
“We never coach our witnesses. Eh di dapat medyo perfect ang mga testimony nila kung kino-coach namin sila. Wala sana na mga butas-butas ang mga sinasabi nila na sinasabi nilang butas-butas,” she added.
In a privilege speech Wednesday, Estrada alleged that a justice undersecretary has been instructing witnesses in the pork barrel scam to pin him, Senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. and Senate Minority Juan Ponce Enrile.
Estrada, however, did not identify the DOJ official.
The three senators are accused of pocketing commissions or “kickbacks” from the diversion of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund to bogus non-government organizations run by alleged mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Napoles is also accused of pocketing funds from the Malampaya gas project which were supposed to have been used to help victims of typhoon victims in 2009.
Also in his privilege speech, Estrada said his co-accused and potential witness Ruby Tuason was the one who got the biggest “kickbacks” from the Malampaya Fund scam.
Estrada claimed Tuason was able to own a P45-million house in Dasmariñas Village – which he referred to as “Malampaya mansion”– through these kickbacks.
Estrada also showed closed circuit television camera footage showing Tuason eight times visiting the sixth floor of the Senate building in November and December 2008, carrying only a handbag.
The footage shows Napoles visiting in November and December 2008, and not March, September, and October 2008 – the months in which whistleblower Benhur Luy claimed Estrada had received kickbacks from the supposed scam.
But on Thursday, De Lima accused Estrada of seemingly trying to “distort” the story and discredit the witnesses, even as she insisted that the CCTV footage shown by the lawmaker was “incomplete.”
Apart from Tuason, Estrada also cast doubts on the “dubious background” of another potential witness, fellow accused, Dennis Cunanan, director general-on-leave of the Technology Resource Center.
Estrada raised doubts on Cunanan’s claim that he is only renting a house in Quezon City from his brother, who the lawmaker insisted does not have the capacity to purchase the “palace-like” house.
Estrada also claimed Cunanan traveled abroad around 80 times during his stint at the Technology Resource Center (TRC). (MNS)