Delays in Enrile, Napoles plunder trial irk judges

Posted at 08/29/2014 6:19 PM

MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 3rd Division admonished both sides in the plunder trial of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and Janet Lim Napoles over the pork barrel scam to avoid any delays in the case.

One of the justices had warned of the possible imposition of fines for every postponement of hearing. There was no final ruling on this matter but the court is looking at a fine of at least P3,000 for each postponement.

The admonition came after both sides argued over the marking of evidence, which could have led to a postponement.

The defense maintained they are not the cause of delays.

The 3rd division continued to hear the cross examination of Commission on Audit auditor Susan Garcia in relation to the bail hearing of Janet Lim Napoles.

Garcia heads the special audit office of the COA, which conducted an audit on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers from 2007 to 2009.

Garcia testified on the aspects of the report in relation to the plunder case of Napoles and Enrile over the pork barrel scam.

Garcia was grilled on the audit findings with regards to the NGOs of Napoles, Ben Hur Luy and others.

Garcia is a prosecution witness. She will testify again on September 5 during the continuation of her cross examination.

The prosecution was asked to limit its stipulations on the case to the parts of the COA report covering the case pending before the division. In its stipulations, the prosecution had included findings on personalities who are not part of this case.

Napoles, heavily secured, was present during the hearing.

At the 5th division, the hearing on the motion to transfer Senator Jinggoy Estrada to a regular jail was continued.

Estrada is detained at Camp Crame on a separate plunder case but still on the pork barrel scam.

Estrada's lawyer Alexis Suarez told reporters that the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology confirmed during the hearing that the BJMP is not adequately equipped to handle a high profile detainee like Estrada, citing the insufficient number of personnel.

Suarez also said Estrada needs an area where he can continue to discharge his senatorial functions like write bills.

Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano, for his part, faced the court in connection with the petition to exclude him from the prosecution. Justiniano maintained there is a memorandum between the DOJ and Ombudsman that deputizes them to be part of the prosecution.

He recalled then State Prosecutors Jovencito Zuno and Richard Fadullon were also deputized by the Ombudsman in the plunder trial of former president Joseph Estrada.