Napoles lawyer asks: Why is Abad not in plunder case?
MANILA, Philippines—What about Butch Abad?
The lawyer of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles has questioned, why graft investigators had not bothered to subpoena the secretary of budget and management after his name cropped up as among the lawmakers who had benefited from the alleged P10-billion pork barrel fund scam.
But in his ardent defense of his client, Stephen David on Thursday received a dressing down from the justices of the Sandiganbayan Third Division for insisting that prosecution witness Ryan Medrano, a field investigator in the Office of the Ombudsman, had “threatened” several individuals to testify in favor of the government.
The prosecution also objected to David’s line of questioning, pointing out that his questions were either irrelevant or argumentative.
Under cross examination by David, Medrano admitted that not all individuals listed as incorporators of the bogus foundations supposedly created by Napoles were indicted for plunder and graft.
“Who are these persons who are listed as incorporators of the NGOs (nongovernment organizations)? Did you subpoena these people?” David asked Medrano at yesterday’s continuation for Napoles’ bail hearing.
The witness replied: “At the time, sir, we did not because (primary whistle-blower) Benhur Luy had told us they did not know their names were included as incorporators.”
Abad used to be the representative from Batanes province.
Besides Luy’s statement, Medrano said they also based their decision not to pursue criminal charges against certain personalities on the affidavits of other witnesses.
David asked Medrano why the Ombudsman did not include Abad in the plunder and graft complaints against Napoles and others even if whistle-blower Merlina Suñas had said in one of her affidavits that Abad had assigned his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or congressional pork barrel to Napoles’ bogus foundations.
When Medrano said he was not aware that Suñas had implicated Abad, David retorted: “You did not even bother to subpoena Butch Abad?”
David also pressed Medrano to admit he had forced several potential witnesses to testify against Napoles et al. and promised them immunity from suit.
He said Medrano instructed the witnesses to sign prepared affidavits.
“Why are some persons not charged despite their names appearing as incorporators of the NGOs? Isn’t it a fact that you coerced them to become state witnesses?” David asked Medrano.
Prosecutor Anne Cabelis stood up and opposed David’s manner of cross examination, saying he was badgering the witness.
She said Suñas had signed the statement in connection with the plunder case against Sen. Bong Revilla and not the case against Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, which the Third Division was also handling.
Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, who chairs the Third Division, sustained most of Cabelis’ objections and instructed David to either reform his questions or move to another topic.