MANILA — The Sandiganbayan 3rd Division on Tuesday slapped a P2,500 fine on a government prosecutor as it continued its trial on the graft cases against former senator and current Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile.
The anti-graft court's Associate Justice Ronald Moreno ordered prosecutor Khadaffy Ferdinand Garzon to pay the fine for failing to attach an attestation page containing his own signature in the judicial affidavit of witness Margarita Guinoma.
The lack of an attestation page was noticed by defense counsel Atty. Ronnie Garay, the lawyer of former businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
“It is an error on my part your honor, I omitted it, human error your honor,” Garzon told the court.
Moreno stressed that under the judicial affidavit rule, the fine to be paid before a revised affidavit could be submitted is from P1,000 to 5,000.
Moreno said Presiding Justice and Division Chairperson Amparo Cabotaje-Tang preferred that the highest amount be imposed, prompting subdued laughter in the courtroom.
Garzon told the court that the prosecution team would forego the testimony of the witness, as the nature of her testimony was similar to the other witnesses presented: that there were ghost agricultural projects funded by the Enrile's Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
As another option, Garzon also said that instead of just identifying her judicial affidavit, the witness may undergo a lengthy question and answer testimony.
Moreno discouraged Garzon as the witness may not be ready for that kind of testimony.
Lastly, Garzon appealed for a lower amount since he would be paying the fine on his own and would not be burdening his fellow prosecutors.
“We do not want to punish you, but only that, for you to make, consider this day memorable for you, it could only be just 1,000 pesos but you will be repeating it again but if you are going to pay 4,500 and I think you won’t do it anymore,” Moreno said.
Moreno then lowered the amount to P2,500 and ordered Garzon to submit the judicial affidavit with attestation before Thursday, the scheduled next hearing for the graft cases of Enrile.
The Sandiganbayan 3rd Division's trial on Enrile's graft cases continued almost a decade since the PDAF scandal was first made public in 2013.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: