Prosecution bares witnesses against Plaza in pork scam trial
PROSECUTORS from the Office of the Ombudsman have released their witnesses and pieces of evidence against former Agusan Del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza for malversation and graft over the alleged pork barrel scam.
In its pre-trial brief filed before the Sandiganbayan Second Division, the Office of the Special Prosecutor said it intends to present 105 witnesses to testify against Plaza in the malversation, graft and direct bribery cases.
Among the witnesses are whistleblowers Benhur Luy, Marina Sula, Merlina Sunas, and Mary Arlene Baltazar. Also set to testify are representatives from the Commission on Audit, Department of Budget and Management, National Bureau of Investigation, the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), as well as alleged beneficiaries of the ghost projects.
Among the documentary evidence to be presented are Luy’s financial ledger, where he documented the alleged kickbacks for legislators, AMLC report and documents, and Plaza’s Statement of Assets and Liabilities Networth.
Also included are pork barrel documents such as disbursement vouchers, memoranda of agreement for projects, special allotment release orders, etc.
Meanwhile, the defense panel of accused mastermind Janet Lim Napoles also told the court that she intends to testify in her defense during the trial.
Plaza is accused of receiving P42.1 million in kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) projects from 2004 to 2010 under the scheme of Napoles, with payoffs taking place at her house in Alabang Hills or at her office in Ortigas.
Plaza faces five counts of malversation, five counts of graft and two counts of direct bribery.
Plaza is part of the second batch of PDAF-scam cases filed by the government. The alleged scheme involved mostly lawmakers who are now facing charges for purportedly pillaging public funds through ghost projects using Napoles’ dummy foundations. Former Masbate Rep. Rizalina Seachon-Lañete and APEC party-list Rep. Edgar Valdez are facing plunder, while former Benguet Rep. Samuel Dangwa and Cagayan De Oro Rep. Constantino Jaraula are facing malversation, graft and direct bribery charges.
The antigraft court is also hearing the plunder cases of detained senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile. Estrada and Revilla are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center. Lañete and Valdez, meanwhile, are detained at the Camp Bagong Diwa.
Of the accused, only the 91-year-old Enrile has been allowed to post bail by the Supreme Court based on humanitarian grounds.
Accused mastermind Napoles faces multiple counts of plunder, malversation and graft. She was sentenced to life in prison for the serious illegal detention of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy.
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