A Quezon City court has ordered the arrest of PDAF scam whistleblower Benhur Luy over a libel case stemming from the publication of an article that implicated former Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. as one of the senators who allegedly profited from the anomalous use of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Judge Juris Dolonila-Callanta of the QC Regional Trial Court Branch 85 issued the warrant of arrest against Luy after the case was raffled off to her sala.
The case was filed in court last month following the recommendation of 2nd Assistant City Prosecutor Perfecto Lawrence Chua Cheng V who found probable cause to indict Luy.
In his complaint-affidavit, Pimentel claimed that the libelous article entitled “25 Senators on Luy’s list,” written by Nancy Carvajal, was published in the May 31, 2014 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI).
The former senator narrated that the article was extracted from the data or digital files and materials that Luy had given to the PDI when he went to the latter’s office.
It was stated in the article that the names of past and present senators are in the digital files of Luy detailing transactions with Janet Lim-Napoles from 2002 to 2012 - a period during which she channeled congressional PDAF allocations to ghost projects and kickbacks.
The article stated that “in 2003 and 2004, then Senator Nene Pimentel allegedly funneled his PDAF to Napoles’ organization and received cash advances in the total amount of P7.6-million in cash and checks all received by a Mon Arcenas between Sept. 9, 2003 and Nov. 6, 2003.
The complainant averred that the article is defamatory because it alleged without any proof that he is involved in the misuse of alloted PDAF which was coursed through his senatorial office.
The article, Pimentel added, publicly imputed to him the commission of graft and corruption or the misappropriation of his PDAF, which tends to cause dishonor, discredit or contempt on his person.
In his counter-affidavit, Luy said that he has been admitted under the Witness Protection Program (WPP) of the Department of Justice on account of his personal knowledge regarding the alleged transactions of Napoles with several lawmakers, heads of agencies and other government officials.
As such, Luy claimed, he enjoys full immunity from criminal prosecution and cannot be subjected to any penalty or forfeiture in all cases related to his personal knowledge regarding the illegal transactions of Napoles.
But in his five-page resolution, Chua Cheng ruled that as correctly pointed out by the complainant, Luy without any proof, alleged that he is involved in the misuse of alloted PDAF, which were coursed through his senatorial office.
“It therefore, publicly imputes to him (Pimentel) the commission of graft and corruption or the misppropriation of his PDAF, which tends to cause dishonor, discredited or contempt on his person. We agree with the complainant that respondent recklessly disregarded the truth when he handed the digital files containing libelous materials to a newspaper publication instead of the DOJ for proper investigation, which is the proper procedure if Luy’s intention was to ferret out the truth,” the resolution said.
A bail of P10,000 was recommended for the provisional liberty of the respondent.