By Czarina Nicole Ong
Pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles has filed a motion before the Sandiganbayan First Division seeking to exclude both the prosecution’s Senate witness and the presentation of her alleged affidavit in her plunder case with former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla.
The prosecution said during their June 1 hearing that it will present a witness from the Senate to prove the alleged existence of Napoles’ affidavit dated May 12, 2014 and Sinumpang Salaysay dated May 26, 2014. However, Napoles’ camp has refused to let this presentation happen.
In her motion, Napoles’ lawyers said that there is no need for the witness to appear since the affidavits cannot be used against her anyway. They cited Section 11 of R.A. 6891, also known as the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act.
Even if Napoles is not a state witness, her lawyers stated that any sworn statement or testimony given in support of her application still cannot be used as evidence against her.
“R.A. 6891 is explicit, that if a person who applied in the Witness Protection Program was later on denied of his application in the program, any sworn statement or other testimony he executed in such application shall not be admissible,” Napoles’ motion read.
At the same time, her lawyers argued that the presentation of the witness and the affidavits will violate Napoles’ right against self-incrimination. “The right against self-incrimination prohibits the government from compelling any person to give testimonial evidence that would incriminate him or her during a present or subsequent criminal case,” the motion read.
Her lawyers further stressed that the proceedings in the application for the Witness Protection Program is confidential in nature, and any affidavit submitted by Napoles was only given to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and its Secretary, who at that time was Leila De Lima.
No other copy was given to the Senate, which is why Napoles and her camp are at a loss on how copies of the affidavit came into the possession of the Senate.
Meanwhile, Revilla’s plunder trial will finally start today (June 22). The prosecution will call to the stand Department of Budget and Management (DBM) records officer Marissa Santos, Avelina Zumaraga from the Bureau of Treasury, and Glenn Eriano from the Department of Agriculture to testify against Revilla.
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