Napoles lawyer irked by witness for overreliance in Luy’s testimony
MANILA, Philippines—For relying so much in the testimony of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy, defense lawyers grilled on Tuesday a witness, a fact-finding investigator from the Office of the Ombudsman, presented by the prosecution during the bail petition hearing of Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Janet Lim-Napoles.
Lawyer Stephen David, Napoles’ counsel, was irked during the cross examination as graft-investigating officer Lawyer Vic Escalante supported his testimonies with “because Luy said in his sworn statement.”
“So you would really believe everything Benhur Luy will tell you?” a visibly annoyed David told Escalante as he took the witness stand at the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division.
This was after Escalante justified that the filing of charges against Napoles for creating bogus nongoverment organizations was based on the sworn statements of Luy and other pork whistleblowers.
David asked Escalante if he saw the signatures of Napoles and John Raymund de Asis on the documents Luy used to allegedly fund fake NGOs.
The documents included the project proposals, special allotment release orders (Saro), notice of cash allocation, endorsement letter from Estrada’s staff Pauline Labayen, and copies of memorandum of agreement.
But Escalante said: “No, (I did not see their names)… but based on the sworn statement of Luy, Merlina Suñas and Marina Sula…”
Before he could even finish, David cut him off with the question asking if he believes everything Luy says.
Escalante said: “No, we are validating their statement first.”
In an ambush interview after the three-hour hearing, David said he “feels sad” by what he deemed as the lopsided investigation of the Ombudsman.
He pointed out that whistleblowers’ sole defense would be: “because our boss ordered us to do this.”
“So kapag sinabi ni Napoles na ‘kasi inutos lang sa akin ito ni..’ hindi siya makakasuhan?” he lamented.
(So if Napoles says that she was just ordered by someone, then she will no longer be charged?)
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