MANILA, Philippines – The camp of pork scam state witness Benhur Luy believes there is no point in presenting Luy’s bank records to the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.
“We are of the humble position that it is not an issue,” said the legal counsel for the whistleblower, lawyer Raji Mendoza, in a chance interview Thursday, July 24.
Mendoza was pertaining to a subpoeana duces tecum and ad testificandum issued on Tuesday, July 22, by the court and served to banks the morning after.
The court ordered 5 banks to send representatives in the Thursday bail hearing of indicted plunderer Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr and to testify on the records of Luy’s 19 accounts. (READ: Sandigan to banks: Testify on Luy’s 19 accounts)
But Mendoza said the bank accounts have nothing to do with the case and matter being heard by the court, which is Revilla’s bail application for his plunder case.
Opposition Senators Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada are facing plunder and graft charges before the Sandiganbayan for allegedly financially gaining from, and knowingly allowing, the diversion of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel to ghost government projects.
These projects were hosted on paper by dubious non-governmental organizations (NGOs) supposedly controlled by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, Luy’s former boss he is now testifying against.
Covered by the forfeiture case
Mendoza also said that the subpoena is tantamount to harassment.
“Under the WPP (Witness Protection Program) law, it is also treated as harassment. He was harassed. He is already preoccupied of testifying in behalf of the state and now
Haharapin ka pa (you will be faced) with other things,” he said.
“It’s a collateral attack. If the defense really feels that they have something against Benhur, then they should file it in court,” he added.
The subject bank accounts of Luy – records of which were ordered produced before the court – are already the subject of a forfeiture case before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 22.
They are currently frozen due to an asset preservation order issued by the Manila court for being allegedly sourced illegally through the PDAF scam.
The Anti-Money Laundering Council, through the Solicitor General, filed the case, wherein Luy would have to prove that his assets are not ill-gotten. (READ: Benhur Luy on freeze order: My assets are not from PDAF)
Needed for cross-examination
But lawyer Stephen David, counsel for Napoles, said the bank history of Luy was important for his impending cross-examination of the witness.
He said “these documents from the transactions of the witnesses” will show “if the NGOs were under the control of the witnesses.”
It was David who applied for subpoena duces tecum – an order pertaining to the production of documents before the court – on the bank accounts of Luy, his relatives, and two other state witnesses.
He said the bank records will show that the state witnesses amassed millions from the scheme. He said other documentary evidence such as articles of incorporation of the PDAF-funded NGOs point to Luy and the state witnesses – and not Napoles – as having participated in the scam.
Legal representatives of BDO Unibank Inc, Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co, Bank of the Philippine Islands, and Landbank of the Philippines appeared before the court on Thursday.
The lawyers separately told the court that the subpoena is too broad and needs clarity as to which specific documents are needed.
David said in response, “But I would like to know the deposits and withdrawals made and the dates of these transactions.”
Not letting the testimony on the bank accounts proceed, the court instead gave Luy’s camp 5 days to file their motion to quash the subpoena and another 3 days for Napoles’ camp to file their reply. – Rappler.com