Court reiterates March deadline for prosecution on Enrile plunder case

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 09 2023 06:02 PM

MANILA — The Sandiganbayan 3rd Division reiterated to the prosecution to finish presenting their evidence by the end of March after technical problems led to the cancellation of Thursday's hearing on the plunder case of former senator and now Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile.

Atty. Ronnie Garay, the lawyer of former businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, moved for the cancellation due to a malfunctioning television monitor, which had to be replaced with a small laptop monitor. 

Monitors were used by the court as the prosecution was set to present witnesses remotely from the Commission on Audit office in La Union.

“Your honor can I just move for the cancellation of today’s hearing because when it comes to the comparison of documents I don’t think this small monitor will be sufficient,” Garay said.

But with the preparations made by the prosecution for their remote presentation of 10 witnesses, lead prosecutor Jennifer Agustin-Se objected to the proposed cancellation.

“The documents that will be used were already marked and they are with the court,” Agustin-Se said.

Lawyer Estelito Mendoza, who represents Enrile, also objected to the cancellation of the hearing.

“I want to emphasize that accused Enrile is 99 years old already and I am 93 and that we cannot continue coming to this court unless we have a date when the prosecution will rest and we can move to complete the trial of this case,” Mendoza said.

Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez decided to cancel the hearing. The presentation of the La Union witnesses was rescheduled on March 16.

Fernandez assured Mendoza that the deadline for the prosecution to finish presenting witnesses by March still stands.

“I think the prosecution, as far as the plunder case, is concerned are duly forewarned of their deadline that they should be able to complete the presentation of their witnesses during the month of March 2023. Of course, the court takes note of the age of accused Enrile as well as Atty. Mendoza. Of course, we pray that you will have more birthdays to come,” Fernandez said.