Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cong. Leni: Loida Lewis did not turn over to me campaign contributions from abroad

FRIENDSHIP OVER (FO)? When Leni Robredo disowned and disassociated herself from the solicitation of Loida Lewis for campaign contributions, did it mark the beginning of a legal battle between the two lawyers? (Source)

Robredo denies she authorized Lewis as collection agent

NAGA CITY—Months after Camarines Sur Third District Rep. Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo profusely thanked supporters via a Youtube video for sending their assistance through Atty. Loida Lewis, she now firmly denies having received contributions from Filipinos abroad that Lewis purportedly received in trust for Robredo’s campaign during the May 2013 election.

Rep. Robredo’s denial comes after she was charged for an election offense for allegedly failing to report contributions received from Filipinos living in the United States.

PREVIOUS STORY: Cong. Leni faces raps for alleged violation of Election Law

In the complaints, petitioners Atty. Luis R. Villafuerte and Atty. Nelly F. Villafuerte averred that Robredo violated the Omnibus Election Code provision on soliciting and receiving campaign contributions from any foreign national or foreign entity which are prohibited foreign sources for campaign contribution; and for making untruthful reporting of contributions received.

The Omnibus Election Code penalizes the receipt of campaign contributions from foreign sources with imprisonment and disqualification to hold public office.

List of donors on www.lenirobredo.ph
(Continued) List of donors on www.lenirobredo.ph

Lewis’ affidavit

Atty. Lewis, on the other hand, said in a sworn declaration executed in April 2013 that she supported the congressional bid of Representative-Elect Atty. Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo of the Third District  of Camarines Sur by soliciting and accepting donations from  Filipino  Citizens living abroad,  who, like her, are dual citizens. (paragraph 3 of the affidavit of Atty. Loida Lewis)
She added, “...the money which I turned over to Atty. Leni Robredo was from my own personal funds and funds collected from Filipino citizens living in the United States.” (paragraph 7 of the affidavit of Atty. Loida Lewis)

Robredo’s explanation

Lewis’ claims were belied by Robredo, who said that she did not receive funds from Lewis other than the latter’s personal contribution. Furthermore, she rejected Lewis’ statement that the website lenirobredo.ph was authorized by Robredo to be the facility for recording and reporting the list of donors from the United States.

There are about (90) donors that were named in the list published in lenirobredo.ph.

Robredo denied that she had anything to do with the message that appears on lenirobredo.ph that thanks overseas Filipinos and friends who gave their support to the campaign. She further stated that she could not have expressed gratitude to a list of donors whom she has never met nor seen.
She claimed that when Lewis turned over to her the campaign contribution amounting to P500,000 Lewis told her that said amount pertained only to Lewis’ personal contribution. Therefore, according to Robredo, she could not report to the Comelec having received funds from other contributors.

Villafuerte’s contention

Atty. Luis R. Villafuerte, however, said that it is too late for Rep. Robredo to deny that she ever authorized Lewis for and in her behalf to solicit and receive donations from abroad.

The political campaign, Villafuerte stressed, started in March 2013. However, Robredo’s denial came about only in October 2013, seven months after the campaign period started, about five months after the May 2013 election, and only when it was discovered that Robredo failed to comply with the reporting requirements on contribution prescribed by the Omnibus Election Code.

Villafuerte also pointed out that Loida Lewis acted as Robredo’s agent in soliciting donations for campaign purposes. Under Philippine Law, the acts of the agent are acts of the principal.

In reply to said charge, Robredo explained that even granting that there existed an agency relationship between her and Lewis, Lewis, in her exercise of the agency function her authority.

Villafuerte furthermore stated that Robredo, in disassociating herself from Lewis, who was her very active supporter in the last political exercise, has effectively called Lewis a liar, a perjurer, and a
swindler.

In a letter to Lewis, Villafuerte said: “Because Atty. Leni Robredo reported to the Comelec only your personal contributions and not other contributions that you received in trust for Leni Robredo, Atty. Leni Robredo in effect called you: (a) a liar for stating that you turned over to her funds you collected from abroad when Atty. Leni Robredo said that you did not; (b) a perjurer for executing an affidavit by declaring under oath a material matter essential to the elements of the election offense of untruthful reporting of contributions, when according to Atty. Leni Robredo you did not make such turnover to her; and (c) a swindler or estafador for allegedly collecting campaign funds, in trust for Leni Robredo, which you did not turn over to her and thereby implying that you misappropriated said funds for yourself.”

In said letter, Villafuerte sought to clarify in writing whether or not Lewis accepts the accusations made by Atty. Robredo.

Meanwhile, Villafuerte expressed that he was saddened that Robredo, after receiving enormous support from Lewis, decided to turn the table against her friend Lewis to exculpate herself from her wrongful acts.

Nilaglag ni Leni Robredo si Loida Lewis, a close friend, ally and financial backer, in order to save herself from her own wrongdoing,” he lamented.

As of press time, Robredo could not be reached for her comment regarding this matter.—BICOLSTANDARD.COM


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