MANILA, Philippines – State witness Benhur Luy is asking the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to limit the defense team’s access to his external hard drive, which has been pre-marked as evidence in one of the pork barrel scam cases.
In a motion filed Tuesday, September 2, with the Sandiganbayan First Division, Luy said the 500-gigabyte hard drive stores sensitive files that are either personal or may compromise other investigations being conducted by government.
He invoked his right to privacy over attempts by lawyers of Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr and his aide Richard Cambe to copy all the documents contained in the hard drive. (READ: ‘Napolist’ frenzy reignites Luy-Baligod tussle)
The white device Luy bought in 2012 to save back-up documents of his former boss and alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles has been pre-marked as evidence in the plunder case of Revilla and his co-accused.
“It bears stressing that movant’s personal hard drive contains sensitive information that are not only irrelevant to the instant case, but are also personal in character and therefore, protected under the Constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy,” Luy’s motion read.
The drive supposedly contains records of the illegal transactions of Napoles with government officials, including Revilla and Cambe, from 2004 to 2012.
Luy also argued that the other documents in his hard drive are already the subject of ongoing government investigation, including the probe into the Malampaya Fund Scam.
He said the premature leak of the drive’s contents may adversely affect the government’s other cases and investigations.
Luy sought for a compromise between him and the defense, asking the court to limit the scope of documents Revilla’s team can copy only to those relevant to Revilla’s case.
Revilla, Cambe, Napoles, and two others are charged with plunder for allegedly conspiring to defraud the government P224 million ($5.13 million) in Revilla’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Napoles allegedly gave kickbacks to Revilla and Cambe for ensuring Revilla’s PDAF proceeds went to the non-governmental organizations she controlled. These NGOs in turn faked the implementation of livelihood projects that could have benefited poor rural communities.
Luy, Napoles’ former finance officer, revealed the scam to authorities after being rescued in March 2013.
Defense: Cite Luy in contempt
As if to reject the compromise Luy sought, defense lawyers later filed separate motions asking the court to cite Luy in contempt.
Lawyers of Revilla and Cambe alleged that prosecution witness Joey Narciso defied the order of the court to allow them to copy the documents from the subject device.
Narciso is from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Cybercrime Division, tasked in safekeeping the subject hard drive.
On August 28, when the drive was pre-marked as evidence, the court ordered the prosecution to provide the defense team a copy of the drive’s contents.
This was upon the agreement of the prosecution, led by prosecutor Joefferson Toribio.
But a day later, Narciso referred the defense’s representative to a letter from Luy and his counsel indicating that the whistleblower does not consent to the reproduction of all the documents in his drive.
“Clearly, there is here a conscious, deliberate and purposive intent by the Prosecution, particularly Director Toribio, together with prosecution witness Luy and NBI witness Narciso to subvert, obstruct and defeat the rights of the accused to a fair trial and frustrate justice,” Revilla’s motion alleged.
Revilla’s lawyer Joel Bodegon asked the court to cite Toribio, Narciso, Luy and his lawyers Anel Antero and Glenbelle Granado in contempt.
Cambe’s lawyer Mike Ancheta, on the other hand, asked the court to order Narciso, the prosecution, Luy and his lawyers to explain why they should not be cited in contempt. – Rappler.com
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