Sandiganbayan orders prosecution to produce evidence vs Enrile
MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has granted a motion filed by former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile seeking copies of the prosecution’s evidence in preparation for the trial of his plunder case.
In a resolution dated April 24, the anti-graft court agreed with Enrile in accordance with Section 10, Rule 116 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.
“In order that an order for production or inspection may be issued, the following requisites must concur: (a) there must be a motion showing good cause therefor; (b) the documents must constitute or contain evidence material to any matter involved in the case; and (c) the documents must be in the possession or under the control of the prosecution, police or other law investigating agencies,” the anti-graft court said.
“All these requisites are present in the instant case […] a good cause exists for the granting of Enrile’s motion. It bears noting that Enrile was charged with a heinous offense, whose conviction carries with it the penalty of capital punishment. Verily, Enrile has absolute control on how to go about his defense,” they added.
Associate Justice Ronald Moreno, who penned the resolution, also contested the prosecution’s claim that the decision would preempt the trial, which would allow Enrile to peak in their ‘surprises’.
“If in his (Enrile’s) mind, he needed to inspect or copy pieces of evidence (not privileged) which are material for him to make an intelligent defense, then he is allowed by the Rules to ask for the inspection or production of these documents,” the resolution concurred by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Benelito Fernandez said.
“We find unmeritorious the prosecution’s argument that there would be no more surprises during trial since it had already filed a bill of particulars which already embodied the documents intended to be presented by the prosecution,” the Third Division added.
Enrile was accused of receiving P172.8 million worth of kickbacks after he allegedly allocated his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus non-government organizations owned by pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Napoles is currently jailed at the Correctional Institute for Women while Enrile is out on bail in consideration of his old age.
Enrile’s co-accused in the case, fellow former senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla are also out of jail. Estrada was allowed to post bail on the premise that he is not the main plunderer while Revilla was acquitted last December 2018.
All three are seeking Senate posts in the 2019 midterm elections.
The Sandiganbayan, however, clarified that Enrile’s camp is limited to having copies of documents barred by the Supreme Court from being disclosed.
“We emphasize that our ruling to grant the present motion is limited only to the documents that have relation to matters specified in the matrix appended to the prosecution’s bill of particulars,” the court noted.
“The prosecution is not directed to disclose matters disallowed by the Supreme Court to be specified with particularity in G.R. No. 213455,” they added. /ee
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