Enrile gets 'rock star lawyer' for his defense

By Jorge Carino, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 20 2014 12:47 PM | Updated as of Jun 20 2014 08:47 PM

MANILA - Senator Juan Ponce Enrile opted not to attend Friday morning's hearing of the Sandiganbayan Third Division on their motions seeking bail and dismissal of the plunder case.

Instead, Enrile sent an iconic litigator to defend him in the anti-graft court.

Former Minister of Justice and Solicitor-General Estelito Mendoza stepped up to the defense on Enrile's behalf.

Because of difficulty in hearing, the so-called "rock star of litigation" had to read the pronouncements of the magistrates on his iPad as the words were transcribed by his assistant.

At age 83, Mendoza's wisdom on law and legal proceedings is still the envy of his younger counterparts.

In his Motion to Dismiss (For lack of evidence on record to Establish Probable Cause), Mendoza argued that the Ombudsman presented no evidence against his client.

"Nabasa ba nila yung 10,000-page na submission ng Ombudsman? Ang dating, parang itinapon ng Ombudsman sa Justices yung complaint tapos bahala na kayong maghanap ng ebidensya dyan," said Mendoza.

He said nobody actually saw his client misappropriate public funds, or take any kickback or bribe, which should be the gravamen of the crimes charged.

The lawyer insisted there is no probable cause against Enrile because there is no evidence with probative value.

He explained that Benhur Luy's ledger, the only evidence to establish Enrile's supposed receipt of kickbacks by Luy's admission, contains self-serving information and is based solely containing information relayed to him by Janet Napoles.

Mendoza categorized the statements of the whistleblowers as hearsay because they did not have personal knowledge of the transactions.

Mendoza insisted that the Sandiganbayan should respect the rights of their clients as accused in the case.

"That's why they call this Sandiganbayan or the shield - to protect the unpopular from the lynch mob. Kaya may Bill of Rights. Kung yung popular din lang ang masusunod eh wala nang hearing at mag-elect na lang tayo kung sino i-execute dyan," he said.

Mendoza then excused himself as he is scheduled to attend another hearing at the Fifth Division, on the third floor of the Sandiganbayan building.