Witness has no first-hand knowledge vs Jinggoy

Posted at 08/05/14 4:48 PM

MANILA - A field investigator from the Office of the Ombudsman standing as witness for the prosecution panel on Tuesday admitted that he has no first-hand knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the allocation of Senator Jinggoy Estrada's pork barrel funds.

Atty. Vic Escalante of the Ombudsman's fact-finding investigation team had 1,000 documents including Special Allotment Release Orders, Notices of Cash Allocation, and Memoranda of Agreement to support his testimony.

He also testified based on the sworn statements of whistle-blowers Benhur Luy and Merlina Suñas.

From the beginning, the defense panel has been arguing that Escalante's testimony will be mere hearsay since he has no first-hand information and will only be testifying based on the results of the initial investigation.

However, the court allowed Escalante to testify as long as his account only involves information that he knows of personally.

When asked by Janet Lim Napoles' legal counsel Stephen David on Tuesday, Escalante confirmed that he never saw the names of Napoles and John Raymund de Asis in any of the documents.

David also questioned why a certain Al Jerome Benito was not charged with plunder despite being named as one of the trustees of Masaganang Ani Foundation, Inc.

Escalante said Benito is a friend of Luy who was supposedly only named trustee on paper.

Meanwhile, because of today's hearing, Estrada said he is confident that he will be allowed to post bail.

After weeks of delay in the hearing for Estrada's motion, this is the first time that the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division made significant progress in trying Estrada's motion for bail.