MANILA — The Sandiganbayan 5th Division denied a motion of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada which insinuated that the prosecution was suppressing evidence in his 11 graft cases in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
Estrada’s omnibus motion for stipulation and production and specification of witnesses and pieces of evidence was a result of the decision of the prosecution not to present witnesses in the ongoing trial.
In the resolution promulgated on March 20, 2023, the court noted that Estrada “resorted to the instant motion to prevent the suppression of evidence tending to prove his innocence."
The court said that among the witnesses not presented by the prosecution were whistleblowers Marina Sula and Ruby Tuason.
“Lastly, Senator Estrada claimed that the non-presentation of the above-mentioned witnesses is considered suppression of evidence. His stance harps on a wrong premise,” the court said in the resolution penned by Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Rafael Lagos.
The prosecution stressed that Estrada was laying the groundwork to later protest that the non-presentation of witnesses is tantamount to suppression of evidence.
“The prosecution correctly argued that it has the exclusive prerogative to determine the witnesses it wishes to present based on its own assessment of their necessity,” the court said.
It added that there could also be no suppression of evidence since the evidence is at the disposal of both parties.
“The defense may present the above-witnesses as his own, or even as hostile witnesses," it said.