Sandigan scolds prosecution for mix-up in pork scam documents
The prosecuting team of the Office of the Ombudsman faced a dressing down before the Sandiganbayan over the mix-up in the marking of evidence during the plunder trial of Atty. Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes.
During the hearing before the anti-graft court Third Division on Wednesday, Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang even said she might be compelled to penalize the prosecuting team for not being ready in the presentation of evidence.
Before the trial even started, the prosecuting team informed the court that it was not yet finished resolving the mix-up in the marking of evidence, which was the same reason the hearing last Thursday was canceled.
“The court does not want any requests for postponement anymore. Otherwise we will impose a heavy penalty on the prosecution, and even the defense,” Tang said.
“There will be no more cancellation of these proceedings. The court is expecting you to make good on your commitment,” she added.
Atty. Anacleto Diaz, counsel for Reyes, lamented that the prosecution merely presented during the trial photocopies of photocopies instead of furnishing the originals of the documents.
The prosecution also did not present an original copy of one document during the preliminary conference, Diaz said.
Diaz also said one of the 14 folders of evidence has a discrepancy.
“This is really a de ja vu… There are many marked documents which are mere photocopies of a photocopy. This is the only time we’ll see the originals of documents, during the trial. This is the only opportunity to submit the originals,” Diaz said.
Associate Justice Samuel Martires said the prosecution seemed to be following the orders of the Office of the Ombudsman instead of prosecuting the accused as an independent panel.
“Mas magaling kayo sa sinumang superiors niyo (You are better than any of your superiors)… Alam niyo, sa (You know, in a) legal office, your responsibility does not belong to the law firm,” Martires told the panel.
“When you’re entering an appearance, you did not enter for the Ombudsman or the Deputy Ombudsman,” Martires added.
Martires advised the prosecuting panel to be independent from the whims of the Ombudsman.
“Your superiors are making pakialam sa nangyayari dito (meddling in this matter)… Pakiusap ni Justice Martires, huwag kami pakialamanan (Justice Martires requests that we not be meddled with). Mas alam namin ang ginagawa namin (We are in a better position to know what we are doing),” he said.
Tang directed the prosecuting team to submit a manifestation for an amended pre-trial order.
The mix-up in evidence compelled the court to cancel the next three plunder trial proceedings. The trial would resume on Feb. 17.
The court is hearing the plunder trial of Reyes, the aide of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who managed to post bail from plunder over the pork barrel scam after the Supreme Court granted his petition due to his advanced age and political stature.
Enrile is accused of receiving P172.8 million in kickbacks from accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles through his alleged agents Ruby Tuason and Reyes.
While Enrile was granted bail, Reyes is detained at the female dormitory of the Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig pending her plunder trial.
Napoles, meanwhile, had been denied bail by the Sandiganbayan. She is also undergoing plunder trial.
In denying Napoles’ bail, the Sandiganbayan in its resolution had taken credence in witness Tuason’s testimony that Reyes received the kickbacks from Napoles even though there is still no evidence Enrile directly benefited from it.
Tuason is the self-confessed agent of Enrile who allegedly met up with Reyes to deliver Enrile’s kickbacks.
Reyes, Enrile’s former no-nonsense chief of staff, had been romantically linked to Enrile. She is considered the 25th senator due to the influence she wields in the Senate.
The pork barrel scam is the alleged scheme of implementing lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) into ghost projects for kickbacks. CDG
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