Napoles to face Luy in next bail hearing
Accused pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles is set to face her former finance officer who is the reason she is now serving life sentence.
During Napoles’ bail hearing at the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City on Friday, prosecutors told the Sandiganbayan Third Division that their next witness is Benhur Luy, who blew the lid on the pork barrel scam after authorities rescued him from serious illegal detention.
This is the first time Napoles will be facing Luy since surrendering and being detained for plunder over the alleged scam of pillaging lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to ghost projects for kickbacks.
Prosecutor Edwin Gomez said the team would be fielding Napoles’ former employee Merlina Suñas for recross examination, after which Luy would take the witness stand.
Gomez said after Luy, his team was mulling on manifesting for the termination of the presentation of evidence if the team thought their pieces of evidence had been sufficient.
In case they still found the evidence lacking, the prosecutors would field as the next witness Ruby Tuason, the former social secretary of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada who alleged that she delivered bags of kickbacks to Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, also detained for plunder.
Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje Tang lauded the nearing conclusion of Napoles’ bail motion, saying that bail proceedings should be summary in nature.
“The bail hearing has been going on for quite some time. We should finish it with dispatch,” Tang said.
The court conducted its bail hearing in the correctional where Napoles was detained following a Supreme Court circular that a convict may only be allowed to travel outside the jail upon the court’s permission.
Hours after the hearing, the Supreme Court granted the Sandiganbayan’s request to allow Napoles to travel outside the jail to attend her bail hearings in the antigraft court. The third division has required Napoles to be present in her bail hearings.
Napoles was ordered to serve her life sentence in the women’s correctional after the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 found her guilty of serious illegal detention charges for detaining Luy for three months over his supposed knowledge of the pork barrel scam.
Defending their witnesses in a makeshift courtroom within the correctional complex, prosecutors presented Thelma Tolentino, chief administrative officer in the Department of Agriculture (DA) budget division; Lourdes Blechas, DA chief records officer, and Yolanda Doblon, director general for the legislative budget research and monitoring office of the Senate.
They testified on the authenticity of the memoranda of agreement and endorsement letters signed by Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, the detained chief of staff of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, for the senator’s pork projects. Reyes and Enrile are detained for plunder. RC
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