Mercado ready to testify vs Elenita Binay
THE Binay family’s nightmare continues to haunt them even in the anti-graft court.
State prosecutors have asked the Sandiganbayan to allow former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado to testify against Dr. Elenita Binay, Vice President Jejomar Binay’s wife, in the graft case she is facing regarding the purchase of alleged overpriced office furnishings when she was still the mayor of Makati.
In their June 5 petition, prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman told the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division that Mercado would testify on the authenticity of the original copy of the Commission on Audit (COA) report on the Makati City government’s financial transactions in 1999.
During her testimony last week, COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza said Mercado, the Binay family’s erstwhile ally-turned-accuser, went to her office in August 2014 and handed her the original copy of the audit report.
She said Mercado, who opened a can of worms in the Senate hearings about the supposed irregularities involving the Vice President and his son, incumbent Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay, told her that he was able to get hold of the document when he was still the vice mayor.
The former Makati official presented the copy of the COA report after he purportedly learned that the case against Elenita may be dismissed because the prosecution could not produce the original copy of the document, according to Mendoza.
“Per existing guidelines, a party may be allowed to present a witness who is not listed in the pre-trial order for good cause shown,” the prosecution said in its eight-page pleading.
As pointed out during the June 4 hearing by Associate Justices Samuel Martires and Ma. Theresa Dolores Estoesta, it said the former vice mayor was a “vital witness and establishes sufficient and just cause for the prosecution” to present him to the witness stand.
In addition to identifying the COA report, the Ombudsman prosecutors said Mercado would be able to “give competent and relevant testimony if allowed to testify.”
“(The) prosecution challenges the defense to cross examine the witness instead of resorting to legal technicalities to suppress his testimony,” the prosecution said.
Elenita Binay’s lawyers had opposed the prosecution’s move to bring Mercado to the witness stand, arguing that he was not among those listed as witnesses in the case.
But the prosecution said it was only in 2014 that Mercado came out in the public against the Binays and divulged his knowledge on various corruption issues involving the Vice President, who was mayor of Makati for almost two decades, and his family.
“Prior to this, nobody could be certain that (Mercado) has pertinent information which he would (be) willingly and truthfully disclose,” it said.
Elenita, who took over his husband’s post in 1998, was indicted for her alleged role in the supposed overpricing of P72-million worth of office panel partitions. SFM
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