Thursday, January 9, 2014
MANILA-Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada filed today his counter-affidavit in response to the charges filed against him by the National Bureau of Investigation and Atty. Levito Baligod in relation to his alleged involvement in the so-called pork barrel scam.
Sen. Estrada maintained that he did not amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth and that he has no participation or knowledge in the transfer of any amounts forming part of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation to anyone other than the legally intended beneficiaries thereof.
He also categorically stated that he did not receive any amount from Janet Lim Napoles or any person associated with her or the non-government organizations she supposedly owned or controlled.
“I believe that these are nothing more than a high-level political ploy to undermine the opposition of which I am part in light of the coming 2016 national elections,” Jinggoy said.
Sen. Estrada lamented that the charges leveled against him are not supported by hard facts and evidence, but merely by bare allegations of secondhand information, hearsay, malicious suspicion and speculations.
Jinggoy further noted that the government witnesses even explicitly admitted in various instances that they have no personal knowledge of the supposed transaction between him and Ms. Napoles. Witnesses for the complainant confessed under oath in one of the Senate inquiries of their extensive falsification of documents and forgery of signatures.
Sen. Estrada reiterated that as a duly-elected legislator, he has no hand in the implementation of the projects under the PDAF, and that his participation is limited to identifying a project from a menu of projects for funding as provided by law.
Sen. Estrada asserted that his endorsements of certain NGOs from a limited list of duly and previously accredited NGOs were “recommendatory at best” with the choice of NGO still left to the implementing agency.
“These endorsements merely reflected the choice of intended project beneficiaries and was based on the willingness of the NGO to undertake the chosen project, and subject to compliance with existing accounting and auditing rules and regulations,” Jinggoy pointed out.
Sen. Estrada also noted how the COA in its special audit report on the PDAF clearly stated that it is the implementing agency’s responsibility to look into the feasibility of the project proposals and the qualifications of the NGOs proposed to be involved in the projects.
“Had there been any objections or problem with respect to the endorsements made for the NGOs, I should have received word from the implementing agency or the COA which conducts post-audits of the projects. I received none,” he said.
Sen. Estrada also defended his former appointments secretary Pauline Labayen, who is among those accused of plunder, saying there is no probable cause to hold her for plunder.
“At no time did I instruct or persuade any of my staff to commit and participate in any illegal act, specifically in any irregular and unlawful transaction involving my PDAF allocation, nor did I order or influence them to receive any commission, kickbacks or rebates from Napoles, Benhur Luy, and their associates,” Jinggoy emphasized.
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