Prosecution rests case in Napoles' illegal detention raps
Mike Frialde (The Philippine Star) - July 1, 2014 - 5:19pm

MANILA, Philippines - The prosecution panel on Tuesday rested its case on the illegal detention case filed against businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles before the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150.

The prosecution's last witness and complainant in the case, Benhur Luy,  on Tuesday stepped off the witness stand after defense lawyer and Napoles spokesperson Bruce Rivera failed to complete his cross-examination.

Rivera earned the ire of the prosecution panel after he asked for a continuance of his cross-examination of Luy. The prosecution panel told the court that Rivera was simply trying to delay the hearing.

Rivera said he could not continue with his cross-examination of Luy as he has yet to read all of Luy's statements based on the transcript of stenographic notes made during his direct examination by the prosecution last June 17.

Rivera told the court that he was only able to secure a copy of the TSN on Tuesday morning. According to Rivera, he tried but failed to get a copy Monday afternoon as the courts were closed for a scheduled earthquake drill.

The prosecution panel, led by Makati Senior Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Garvida argued that Rivera, who was present during Luy's direct examination, could still conduct the cross-examination based on his notes.

But Rivera said that although he was present and took notes, he still needed the TSN from Luy's direct examination to correlate it with Luy's previous statements in court.

When ordered by Judge Elmo Alameda to proceed with the cross-examination, Rivera said he could not proceed and asked for more time. Alameda  then ordered the prosecution panel to conduct its re-direct examination.

When Garvida said they are no longer conducting a re-direct examination, the court allowed the prosecution to make its formal offer of evidence exhibits,  signalling that the prosecution is resting its case.

The next hearing  is scheduled on August 5 at 9:30 am, and Rivera is expected to present his witnesses.

Rivera said there will be 18 defense witnesses to be presented, mostly priests who stayed at the house owned by Napoles in the exclusive Magallanes Village where Luy was also allegedly illegaly detained.

During the cross-examinatio, Rivera quizzed Luy about his stay at the Napoles' house at 52 Lapu Lapu St. in Magallanes Village when the lawyer asked the court for a continuance of his cross-examination.

Immediately, the prosecution panel reacted and accused Rivera of being unfair.

"He (Rivera) was supposed to do the cross last time. This is unfair," Garvida told the court.

Rivera was also admonished by Alameda for asking for a continuance of his cross-examination.

"You should have manifested earlier that you are not ready. You have already started the cross," said Alameda.

Rivera argued that he did mention at his opening statement that he would only ask Luy questions based on his statements contained in the transcript of stenographic notes which he had already read. The prosecution panel then argued that Rivera should not be granted a continuance of his cross-examination.

Talking to reporters later, Rivera said the defense panel is not trying to delay the hearing. Rivera added that the court should have allowed for a continuance of the cross-examination on Luy.

"It is not our fault. Clearly the court could have granted it," he said.

"I need to correlate the TSN wih the other TSNs. The questions were additonal direct questions which were also additional from the original TSN. So kahit matanggap mo yung TSN ngayon oras na ito. I cannot read it agad agad. I need to correlate it with the other testimonies," Rivera added.

"I made a manifestation at the opening saying I was not able to get the transcript on time not because of our fault. I asked for a little leeway and be allowed to ask questions on the past testimonies. those are the transcripts I read," Rivera said.

Rivera also said that while the prosecution panel said Luy's cross-examination has finished, he could summon Luy again to the witness stand and continue with his aborted cross-examination.

"We can. We are not closing any doors. Let us wait and see. we are trying to figure it out," he said.

"There has to be an official record. the transcript is necessary. How can I conduct a cross examination when I don't have that transcript. I cannot rely on my notes. That was my dillema," Rivera added.

Meanwhile, Luy asked for support and prayers for him and the other witnesses in the pork barrel scam as the case is now filed at the Sandiganbayan.

"Gusto ko lang magpasalamat sa taong bayan at sa media sa patuloy na pagmamatyag at pagbabantay. Lahat ng ito ay bunga ng lahat ng pagod ng bawat isa sa atin. So let us remain steadfast at huwag tayong mapagod sa pagdadasal. At sa media at sa taong bayan at patuloy na tutukan natin ito. So ipagdasal ninyo din kami. Sa kabila ng mga nangyayari na kaliwa't kanan na issues ay gusto lang natin sabihin ang katotohanan. Kung ano ang nangyayari. So iniimbitahan ko kayo na patuloy na bantayan at magmatyag at ipagdasal ninyo din kaming mga witnesses," Luy said.

Asked if he is satisfied with how the pork barrel case is moving at the anti-graft court, Luy declined saying the case is already in court.

"It is no longer (in my control). Kami ay mga witnesses lamang. What we can do is (testify in court). I cannot say anything more kasi because the case is now with the Sandiganbayan," he said.

During the hearing on June 17, Luy testified that his Metrobank dollar and peso deposits were transferred to Napoles’ accounts while he was being detained at the businesswoman's Magallanes village house.

Luy told the court that he learned that while he was being held at Napoles’ house at 52 Lapu Lapu St. in Magallanes Village, the businesswoman, using his forged signatures on withdrawal slips and debit memos, allegedly transferred P800,000 from his account with the Metrobank Julia Vargas branch to her JLN account on December 20, 2012.

Likewise, Luy added that his $13,761 account with Metrobank was also closed on December 27, 2012, allegedly also on Napoles’ orders. Luy said he only knew of the transfer of his bank accounts and the withdrawals shortly after his rescue by the National Bureau of Investigation on March 22, 2013.

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