Will the real lawyer of Napoles come forward?
MANILA, Philippines – As the trial on the serious illegal detention case filed by whistleblower Benhur Luy against Janet Lim-Napoles resumed on Tuesday, confusion reigned over who would stand as defense lawyer of the detained businesswoman, delaying the trial anew.
After Lawyer Lorna Kapunan resigned as Napoles’ counsel, Lawyer Stephen David has since led the defense side in place of Lawyer Alfredo Villamor, who replaced Kapunan as the head counsel.
Villamor also quit recently as Napoles’ lawyer due to family-related problems.
But in the Tuesday hearing at Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) where Luy took the witness stand, Lawyer Bruce Rivera, spokesperson of the Napoles family, said he was asked by Napoles herself to take over her serious illegal detention case.
Rivera said in an interview that the decision was made so David could focus on Napoles’ plunder and graft charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam she allegedly masterminded.
As Rivera declared the changes in the court, David was surprised. David said he received no word that he is out as counsel for Napoles’ illegal detention case.
“I was asked (by Mrs. Napoles) that I will be the lead counsel, but there would be collaborating works,” Rivera said.
“Atty. David is really at home at the Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan practice. The demarcation was not clear because initially, it was Atty. David and Atty. Villamor who would handle the case. But because of his (Villamor) withdrawal, I was forced [to handle the case],” he explained.
But Rivera clarified that after the hearing, his misunderstanding with David had already been settled.
Because of the confusion, the cross examination of the defense panel with Luy has been postponed. Hearings will resume on July 1 and 8.
The decision was made after Rivera sought “ample time” to study the case, which irked Prosecutor Christopher Garvida due to several delays in the case.
“Well he (Garvida) would be disappointed if he’s representing the accused. It will be us who will be prejudiced by this set-up and (by the delays),” he said.
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