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Lawmaker smells 'something fishy' in Sula's recantation on PDAF case.

Pork-barrel scam whistle-blower Marina Sula's change in her testimony against former Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. is 'highly suspect,' coming at this stage of the trial, a lawmaker said on Thursday.

Akbayan Rep. Tom S. Villarin issued the statement after Sula backtracked on her 2014 testimony against Revilla on Thursday before the Sandiganbayan.

'But it seems that under the Duterte administration, truth telling is not a virtue and may lead you to harm's way,' Villarin said.

'I'm afraid that it may also lead to recantations by other whistleblowers who are under intense pressure to let go of their testimonies. Fighting corruption now is not in vogue and reduced to just lip service,' the lawmaker added.

During a recent hearing at the Sandiganbayan, Sula, then an employee of JLN Corp. of pork-barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, denied her meeting with Revilla for the implementation of the senator's projects funded by his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Sula, after the direct examination of Revilla's lawyer Reody Anthony Balisi, said she was only directed by the prosecution panel, particularly Joefferson Toribo, to corroborate the testimony of whistle-blower Benhur Luy. The prosecution claimed that Revilla illegally amassed P224 million of his PDAF.

According to Sula, it was a standard operating procedure for Luy to sign the names of lawmakers in the endorsement letter which were also prepared in their office, and was in fact he who signed in the name of Revilla. She added that she personally saw Luy sign the documents without the knowledge of Revilla.

With this, Associate Justice Edgardo Caldona warned Sula that she might lose her witness protection program because of her recantation.

For his part, Revilla, in a news statement, said that 'after four years, four long years, thistoday's revelations only confirm what I have known from the beginning-that I was targeted.'

Revilla's lawyers are now contemplating, asking the Court to exclude Luy from the witness protection program of the Department of Justice and revoke his immunity.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prosecutor Manuel Soriano said Sula's change in testimony was no longer a surprise as they have already information that she would change her testimony against Revilla.

He, however, said, 'We stand by other evidence presented by the prosecution, and with respect to the testimony given by her against Judge Toribio, we will never do that.'

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jun 28, 2018
Words:459
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