Revilla’s lawyers ask court to cite Luy for contempt
MANILA, Philippines–The lawyers of detained Sen. Bong Revilla have asked the Sandiganbayan to cite primary whistle-blower Benhur Luy for contempt of court for his alleged failure to comply with its order allowing them to copy the contents of Luy’s external hard drive.
According to Luy, the external hard drive contains the records of the financial transactions that suspected pork barrel racket mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles had with several legislators.
In a seven-page motion, Revilla’s defense team also moved to strike out the testimony of prosecution witness Joey Narciso, the National Bureau of Investigation special investigator who conducted the digital forensic examination of Luy’s hard drive.
Narciso had testified that Luy’s external drives were not “altered or changed” since the last time they were saved.
Revilla’s defense team also assailed Luy, Narciso and Director Joefferson Toribio of the Office of the Special Prosecutor for their supposed high-handedness to “subvert, obstruct and defeat the rights” of the senator.
“Clearly, there is here a conscious, deliberate and purposive intent by the prosecution… to subvert, obstruct and defeat the rights of the accused to a fair trial and frustrate justice,” Revilla’s lawyer said in their petition dated Sept. 2, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer on Wednesday.
The external hard drive was the same device that Levito Baligod, Luy’s former lawyer, gave to the Inquirer during a visit to its Makati City office on April 27, 2013.
With Luy’s consent, Baligod allowed the Inquirer to copy its contents which became the basis of the newspaper’s 13-part series of articles on how Napoles and erring public officials skimmed off some P10 billion from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allotments of several legislators.
The 500-gigabyte device contained over 20,000 files which were saved in more than 2,000 digital folders.
Citing the constitutional right to privacy, Luy’s lawyers said the hard drive also contained information which were not related to Revilla’s pending cases.
“It bears stressing that [Luy’s] personal hard drive contains sensitive information that are not only irrelevant to the instant case, but are also personal in character and therefore, protected under the constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy,” Luy’s three-page manifestation read in part.
In their petition, the defense lawyers recalled that during the hearing of Revilla’s bail petition on Aug. 28, the court allowed them to access Luy’s hard drive and directed Narciso to help them make an “image” or exact copy of the digital contents of the device.
But instead of giving a copy of the hard drive’s contents, the defense lawyers said Narciso presented a letter from Luy “claiming that the external hard drive is his private property and access thereto should be limited” to the files which were the subject of Narciso’s testimony.
As this developed, the lawyers of Napoles on Wednesday sought the reversal of the Sandiganbayan’s decision that barred the opening of the bank accounts of Luy and other witnesses in the fund scam.
In seeking a reconsideration of its Aug. 28 ruling, Napoles’ counsels told the antigraft court’s First Division that scrutinizing the witnesses’ accounts was crucial in uncovering the truth behind the alleged misuse of the PDAF allotments of Revilla.
Mother’s bank records
Besides Luy’s bank transactions, the lawyers of Napoles also wanted to examine the bank records of his mother, Gertrudes Luy, his brother Arthur Luy and fellow witnesses Marina Sula and Merlina Suñas.
The defense lawyers argued that opening the witnesses’ bank records would help “all of us to be enlightened who really benefited” from multibillion-peso fund scam.
In junking the request of Napoles’ lawyers to subpoena Luy et al.’s bank accounts, the court agreed with the witnesses’ contention that opening their bank records would violate Republic Act No. 1405, or the bank secrecy law.
It also upheld their argument that the defense lawyers failed to specify which bank accounts would be covered by the subpoena.
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