MANILA - The camp of former senator Jinggoy Estrada on Monday filed before the Sandiganbayan a manifestation against the evidence of the prosecution, which led to the cancellation of the first day of his plunder trial.
Instead of hearing from 2 initial witnesses, the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division discussed Estrada's request that "the prosecution's unilateral description of its exhibits be deleted" and "a bare listing of the markings of the exhibits be made (without description) and the exhibits themselves be attached to the records."
Estrada's lawyer Paul Mar Arias argued that the descriptions of the evidence of the prosecution in the pre-trial order were too detailed.
Prosecutor Ma. Cristina Batacan countered that the descriptions were from government bodies where the documents came from.
REPRIMAND FOR ESTRADA LAWYER
During the trial, all 3 justices of the 5th Division reprimanded Arias for speaking in a raised tone.
"Next time Atty. Arias, do not start the day with bickering," Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega told the lawyer.
Arias, for his part, asked for the court's understanding as he was just emphatic.
Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Rafael Lagos later gave the prosecution 5 days to submit a written comment to the manifestation.
"Set tayo ng set ng trial date, ayaw niyo naman matuloy, bahala kayo," said Lagos.
The court did not set another date for the trial as the prosecution requested that a setting be done after the pre-trial order has been signed by both the defense and the prosecution.
PRAISE FOR LAWYERS, REQUEST FOR FURLOUGH
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Estrada defended his lawyers for effectively causing the delay.
"Kung ako lang masusunod gusto ko na mag-start ang hearing. Unfortunately, the prosecution has been submitting documents that are not originals, how can our lawyers allow that to happen?" Estrada said.
The senator also asked the court for a 2-day furlough to undergo a medical procedure at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City.
"On July 12, 2017, accused was seen by Dr. Regina Bagsic, M.D. at accused's place of detention at the PNP custodial center and underwent blood test. Upon examination, accused was noted to have elevated levels of CEA (carcinogenic antigen) and was advised to undergo videocolonoscopy at the soonest possible time," Estrada's lawyers said in their motion.
"Two days lang, kasi siyempre may preparations pa yan, madami iniinom muna," Estrada said.
In the motion, Estrada's lawyers said the procedure may take only 30 to 60 minutes, but one day of preparation is needed and another for post-procedure "diagnostic or therapeutic interventions."
Estrada has been detained since 2014 for plunder over his alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
He was accused of pocketing P183.793 million in public funds after diverting his PDAF to "non-existent" and "unaccredited" non-government organization which failed to deliver the assistance to beneficiaries from 2004 to 2012.