Elenita Binay blocks appeal to turn Aspillaga into state witness
MANILA — Former Makati City Mayor Elenita Binay has moved to block the appeal of state prosecutors on the Sandiganbayan’s rejection of the bid to turn former councilor Ernesto Aspillaga into a state witness in her graft case.
The issue concerns the effective suppression of the “vital testimony” of Aspillaga, a co-accused in the graft case over the allegedly irregular purchase of P72.06-million worth of furniture for the city hall in 1999.
Aspillaga accused the Binay family of rigging the procurement of the city’s projects over the years during a Senate blue ribbon committee hearing in September 2014. After this, prosecutors asked the court to turn him into a state witness, a request denied on Dec. 9.
Prosecutors then filed an appeal on Dec. 27. But Binay, in an 18-page motion filed Feb. 15, asked the court to “expunge” the pleading for technical defects.
Her motion cited the prosecution’s failure to abide by the rule that a pleading cannot be heard beyond 10 days of its filing. Prosecutors had requested the hearing be set on Jan. 10, four days beyond the 10-day period provided by the rules of court.
Binay’s motion also said the prosecutors did not indicate the number and date of their Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) certificate of compliance.
“Being a mere scrap of paper without any legal effect, over which the Honorable Court has no authority to act on, it is respectfully submitted that the Prosecution’s Motion for Reconsideration dated 27 December 2016 should be expunged from the records of the Honorable Court,” the motion read.
At the same time, Binay’s motion also said the court “correctly denied” the prosecution’s motion to discharge Aspillaga from the case on grounds that this mode of turning him into a state witness was improper.
This specific case is the last pending case against Binay in connection with alleged irregularities in the purchase of supposedly overpriced furniture for the city hall from 1999 to 2000. She has won three other cases.
She also faces four graft and malversation cases before the Third Division for the purchase of P45-million worth of hospital beds and sterilizers for the city-run Ospital ng Makati in 2000 and 2001. SFM/rga
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