Napoles lawyer quits, delaying illegal detention trial
MANILA, Philippines–The resignation of lawyer Alfredo Villamor as the lead counsel of Janet Lim-Napoles in the serious illegal detention case against her and the ensuing confusion over his replacement are delaying proceedings.
“You better make up your mind, don’t let this proceeding hang,” Makati Regional Trial Court Judge Elmo Alameda admonished Napoles’ other lawyers at the trial’s continuation Tuesday.
Alameda is trying the serious illegal detention case filed against Napoles and her brother, Reynald Lim, by their cousin and former employee Benhur Luy.
Spilling the beans
Luy has accused Napoles of holding him against his will for several months to prevent him from spilling the beans on her alleged involvement in a multibillion-peso pork barrel scam involving members of Congress.
Napoles is also facing charges in other cases filed recently in connection with the scam but she is under police detention for the illegal detention charge.
Alameda asked who between Napoles’ remaining lawyers, Bruce Rivera and Stephen David, would take over as lead counsel and do the cross-examination of Luy.
After Rivera told the court he was the new lead counsel, David said this “came as a surprise” to him and he would need to verify this with their client, Napoles.
“There has to be only one lead counsel,” Alameda said.
The judge became visibly irked when Rivera asked that Luy’s cross-examination be deferred for another day since he assumed the role of lead counsel only on Tuesday and needed time to go over the case documents.
“I don’t want this proceeding to be controlled by the parties of this case,” Alameda said. He reminded the defense lawyers Luy’s testimony had been postponed three times upon their side’s request.
The trial has also been stalled by the hearings on Napoles’ motions seeking surgery and hospital confinement.
Luy was the last witness presented by the prosecution. He will be cross-examined by the defense before the formal offer of evidence and then it would be the defense’s turn to present its witnesses.
Rivera asked that Luy’s cross-examination be reset to July 1 and 8 at 10 a.m. to give him ample time to prepare.
“I have to familiarize myself with the case. I won’t be confident enough to ask questions,” he said.
Alameda agreed to the postponement but not before giving Rivera and David a dressing down, saying he would not take any more excuses at the next hearing.
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