Revilla lawyer wants Luy, officials cited for contempt

Posted at 09/04/14 5:12 PM

MANILA - The lawyers of Senator Bong Revilla and Janet Lim Napoles have asked the Sandiganbayan to cite in contempt pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy, his lawyers, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) forensic investigator Joey Narciso, and government prosecutors for refusing to turn over a copy of a hard disk drive containing records of the supposed pork barrel scam transactions.

The disk image of the files obtained from the hard drive, owned by Luy, were earlier presented by the prosecution as evidence in the ongoing bail hearing for Revilla, Napoles, and Richard Cambe.

The defense, however, wanted to determine the authenticity and reliability of the hard drive before admitting the documents as evidence.

Last week, the defense asked the prosecution for Luy's entire hard drive for them to conduct their own forensic copy. "Para malaman namin na baka may problema yan, saan nanggaling, anak ba talaga ng hard disk itong kopya na ito. Kailangan naming makita iyong buong kopya," said Dennis Buenaventura, Napoles’ lawyer.

However, the prosecution refused to give the defense a complete copy of the drive, opting instead to submit 25 files, which they said were the only documents relevant to Revilla's plunder case.

Lead prosecutor Joefferson Toribio told the court Thursday that there are other files saved on the hard disk, which they don't want the defense to obtain.

Among the files in the hard drive are other documents that would implicate other legislators, as well as documents which are already subject of the NBI and DOJ's investigation on the Malampaya Fund Scam.

Also saved on the hard drive were other personal and private files of Luy.

The prosecution argued that doing such would violate Luy's right to privacy. "Ayaw namin malantad yung ibang files concerning other legislators. Hindi na yan material sa kaso, magiging unfair kami kapag ilalabas pa namin yan," Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano told the media.

Justiniano, who is also acting as a prosecutor in the plunder cases, said that submitting a copy of the hard drive would subject other legislators to a trial by publicity.

"Kung ano lang pinag-uusapan na period na sinabi ni Benhur Luy ng mga transaksyon, kung sinabi nyang between 2006-2010, iyan na lang ang pag-usapan natin," he added.

But the Napoles camp is not convinced, saying that the authenticity of the hard drive should be taken into account first.

The lawyers said the hard drive was able to change hands after Luy obtained the files in 2012 up to the time that it was submitted to the NBI as evidence.

"We should first establish the source, dapat clean, authentic, and its integrity should be without question," Buenaventura said.

The lawyer argued that if that cannot be established, then the testimony of Luy should also be stricken off the records of the court.

"We let him testify on the condition that they will establish the authenticity of the hard disk afterwards," said Buenaventura.

The prosecution, however, dismissed the reasoning of the defense, saying that any testimony of the witness cannot be taken off the records if he has been cross-examined by the other camp.

In the end, the court gave the prosecution five days to give their written reply on the defense's motion.