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Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was not amused by Senator Bong Revilla Jr's privilege speech, where he denied involvement in the pork barrel scam and even trotted out a toy truck to make light of the government's evidence against him.
"Nangi-insulto na lang iyon. I don’t know for what reason ginagawa niya iyan na minamaliit niya ang trabaho ng NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) at DOJ (Department of Justice)," said De Lima, stressing the plunder complaint that the NBI filed against the lawmaker was already being evaluated by the Office of the Ombudsman.
"So, siguro iyon ang alam niyang strategy...na maliitin at insultuhin ang naging outlook ng NBI," she added.
In his speech, Revilla claimed President Benigno Aquino III personally asked him to vote to convict former chief justice Renato Corona in 2012. Revilla was one of 20 senators who voted for conviction on May 29, 2012.
Revilla's toy truck was an apparent reference to the sets of documentary evidence prepared by the DOJ and NBI, which were so voluminous they had to be transported from the NBI headquarters in Manila to the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City in trucks.
De Lima said the NBI would not have lodged the case against Revilla, fellow Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, and more than 30 others if the evidence against them was not strong.
The DOJ and the NBI had earlier said charges were filed against the lawmakers, supposed pork barrel fund scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, other government officials, and supposed officials of Napoles foundations on the basis of documentary evidence as well as testimonies from several of Napoles' former employees.
"Naniniwala kami sa sinasabi ni (whistleblower) Benhur Luy. Iyong credibility niya ay malinaw sa amin. Naniniwala kami na totoo ang sinasabi ni Benhur at mga whistleblowers kaya tinanggap naming ang testimonya nila, tinanggap namin iyong sworn statements," said De Lima.
The Justice chief said the whistleblowers had to be placed under the government's Witness Protection Program to protect them from possible threats due to the sensitivity of the information they divulged to investigators.
"Pero siyempre magkakaroon ng say diyan ang Ombudsman (kung kailangan sila manatili sa WPP) kapag tapos na iyong preliminary investigation. Pero para sa'min, hindi kami nagkakamali diyan. Tama ang ginawa namin," De Lima said. — JDS, GMA News