Enrile defense hit: ‘Are we waiting for the next elections?’
Video by Noy Morcoso/INQUIRER.net
A Sandiganbayan Justice on Friday said detained Senator Juan Ponce Enrile seems to be waiting for the next elections as he faces plunder trial over his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
During his scheduled pre-trial that was later cancelled on Friday, Associate Justice Samuel Martires made the comment after Atty. Anacleto Diaz, lawyer of Enrile’s chief of staff Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, asked the court to compel the prosecution to present original documents even during the preliminary conference. Diaz said Reyes’ counsels would prove her supposed signature in the letters were forged.
Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang urged both parties to terminate preliminary conference and gave the prosecution the month of August to present its pre-trial brief for the trial proper in September.
But Diaz pleaded for the court to give the prosecution more time to prepare the original documents; however, the prosecution said it would be difficult to do so.
Meanwhile, Enrile’s lawyer Joseph Sagayon told the court Enrile did not want to participate in the preliminary conference pending the Supreme Court’s decision on their petition for certiorari.
Martires castigated both defense panels, saying they seemed to be waiting for something else before proceeding to trial.
Martires noted that the defense is dragging its feet on the case ahead of the next presidential elections, where Enrile’s party-mate Vice President Jejomar Binay is expected to run.
Martires said the court could not stop the proceedings to go to trial proper because the Supreme Court has not yet issued a temporary restraining order.
“We already celebrated the first anniversary (of the case). Must we wait for a second anniversary?” Martires said.
“What are we waiting for: the elections of the next president, or for the prosecution to produce the originals? We can’t wait for the prosecution to produce the originals. We can’t allow ourselves to be captive of any parties,” Martires said.
Enrile ran for senator alongside Binay as Vice President in 2010 under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), which is now the political party of Binay in his 2016 presidential bid.
Martires said the preliminary conference has dragged for a year, which “defeats the purpose of the preliminary conference.” The initial marking of evidence is held at the preliminary conference.
Martires said the defense should not worry, and in fact should be jubilant, if the prosecution failed to present original copies of the evidence during the trial proper.
“I think you should be happy if they are not able to produce the originals. Surely, (your clients) would be acquitted,” Martires said.
Presiding Justice Tang cancelled the scheduled pre-trial pending the termination of the preliminary conference.
During the pre-trial, both parties would prepare for the conduct of the trial proper, including the marking of exhibits, stipulation of facts, identification of issues, and identification of the number of dates each party needs for presentation of evidence.
Asked for his reaction, Enrile, who attended the hearing, only smiled at the idea that he was waiting for Binay to win as president.
“I am waiting for the resolution of the Supreme Court,” Enrile said in an interview after the hearing.
In his 70-page petition for certiorari filed last September 2014, Enrile asked the Supreme Court en banc to act on his petition, expedite the certiorari proceedings, and to set the case for oral arguments.
Aside from asking that he be allowed to post bail, Enrile also asked the High Court to set aside the ruling of the anti-graft court Third Division junking his motion to fix bail.
Enrile said he should be allowed to post bail since the prosecution failed to present strong evidence against him and that the charges “cannot even be considered a capital offense.”
Enrile is under hospital detention and Reyes detained at the female dormitory of Camp Bagong Diwa for their alleged involvement in the purported scheme of pilfering the senator’s Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to ghost projects for kickbacks.
Witness Ruby Tuason, a socialite and social secretary of former President Joseph Estrada, has said she delivered kickbacks to Enrile from Napoles through Enrile’s chief of staff Reyes.
Napoles is serving life sentence for the serious illegal detention of her entrusted financial officer Benhur Luy, who turned against her when he was detained over suspicions he was starting his own scam. IDL
Originally posted on Jul 31, 2015 @ 12:46