For complaining of inconvenience, Napoles lawyer gets dressing-down from Sandigan
A SANDIGANBAYAN justice hearing the pork barrel scam trial gave a sermon before the accused of how corruption drains government coffers and destroys the “fiber” of society.
During the plunder trial of Atty. Jessica Lucia “Gigi” Reyes on Wednesday, Associate Justice Samuel Martires made the statement in reaction to the accusation the court was giving undue special treatment to the plunder case of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.
It was Atty. Stephen David, counsel for accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, who said the court seemed biased in giving special treatment by giving the trial twice a week of hearing.
David also complained about the court requiring the attendance of Napoles, who has to be fetched from the Correctional Institute for Women where she is sentenced to life imprisonment, in all stages of her plunder trial.
Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang scolded David, and was so infuriated she had to ask Martires to give David a dressing-down.
Martires said the court is requiring the attendance of Napoles and Reyes to make them feel the hardship of facing a corruption case.
“Corruption is worse than a sin. But it’s curable. How do we cure the disease? By letting the accused realize yung hirap ng kaso, yung hirap mag-attend ng trial,” Martires said.
“This is a non-bailable offense. This is not an ordinary, bailable offense where accused is given provisional liberty. We require the accused to be present because to me, corruption is one of the most serious offenses. Hindi lang isang tao ang nagsu-suffer sa corruption, buong sambayanan ang nagsu-suffer sa corruption,” Martires said.
Martires said corruption is related to economic growth because it depletes the national wealth that could have been used to boost the economy.
“Corruption destroys the fiber of our society. Ang involved sa corruption, binding hindi lang sa isang tao, kundi sa sambayanan,” he said.
He said corruption is the reason why private nongovernment organizations are more trusted to handle funds than government agencies.
Martires also said corruption, like drugs, can be addicting to public officials.
Martires said the court can require the attendance of a person accused of plunder in the same way a lower court can compel the attendance of someone accused of murder.
Martires said he cannot allow the court to be accused by the media of sitting on the case.
“If the court doesn’t resolve the case within a certain period of time, what will the media say? Justice delayed? We wanted to speed up [the proceedings] because we are always criticized,” Martires said.
He said Reyes and Napoles should not be worried because if the evidence against them do not prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt, Martires would be the first to acquit them of the charge.
Martires said the administration has no hold over how the court would try the plunder case.
“Kung ang worry mo is the phase of the case disposition, I assure you, Attorney David, neither king nor president can tell us what to do in this case…We can only be bound on the evidence presented. Kung walang proof beyond reasonable doubt, I will not bat an eyelash in acquitting the accused,” Martires said.
Enrile is accused of receiving P172.8 million in kickbacks from Napoles through his alleged agents Ruby Tuason and Reyes.
Enrile is out on bail from hospital detention after the Supreme Court considered his petition citing his advanced age and political stature.
READ: While Enrile runs free, Napoles denied bail over ‘pork’ scam
While Enrile was granted bail, Reyes is detained at the female dormitory of the Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig pending her plunder trial.
In denying the bail of Napoles, the Sandiganbayan in its resolution had taken credence in witness Tuason’s testimony and said Reyes received the kickbacks from Napoles even though there is still no evidence Enrile directly benefited from it.
Tuason is the self-confessed agent of Enrile who allegedly met up with Reyes to deliver Enrile’s kickbacks.
Reyes, Enrile’s former chief of staff, had been romantically linked to Enrile.
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