MANILA — Government prosecutors told the Sandiganbayan 3rd Division on Thursday they would end by March their presentation of witnesses in the plunder case of former senator and now Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile.
After presenting two witnesses, Prosecutor Khadaffy Ferdinand Garzon told the anti-graft court that they would resume their presentation of witnesses on March 7, as they asked for the cancelation of the scheduled hearings on Feb. 21, 23, 28 and March 2.
Garzon presented former Umingan, Pangasinan municipal agricultural officer Francisco Collado and farmer Rodrigo Soriano who testified through their judicial affidavits on their supposed non-receipt of agricultural packages from the office of Enrile.
Because of stipulations between the prosecution and the defense on the testimonies of witnesses, the presentation of witnesses for the whole month of February was expedited and the next witnesses will take the stand in March.
After hearing the proposed cancelation of hearings, Enrile’s lawyer Estelito Mendoza manifested his objection to the proposal.
“I would like the court to know that yesterday, accused Enrile celebrated already his 99th birthday. We do not wish to have this case until he reaches the next century,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza also said that not all witnesses have to be presented since the last ones have the same tenor in their testimonies.
Garzon then told the court that the remaining 26 witnesses were "vital" to the case as they would be testifying on different Special Allotment Release Orders issued by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Garzon said they would finish the presentation by the end of March.
The same set of witnesses from Pangasinan were later presented by the prosecution in the hearing for the graft cases of Enrile and his co-accused individuals.
While the prosecution asked for cancelations in the plunder case, they would continue presenting witnesses for the graft cases on Feb. 21 and 23, and every Tuesday and Thursday thereafter.
The prosecution said they would be terminating their presentation of witnesses for the graft cases by May, with PDAF scam whistleblower Benhur Luy as the last witness.