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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Sandigan allows videocon testimony in FDA case

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The Sandiganbayan ruled to allow a witness to take the stand remotely by videoconferencing against a former director general of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who is facing graft charges.

In a resolution by presiding justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang dated Jan. 3, the anti-graft court’s Third Division hearing the graft charges against Nela Charade Puno granted the prosecution’s motion to allow Dr. Farrah-Arsenia Agustin-Bunch to testify through videoconferencing.

The charges involved the FDA’s order for the closure of a “natural medical center” in Tarlac province which the agency said was selling unregistered health products.

The court said the prosecution proved that the presentation of the proposed witness is covered by the Supreme Court guidelines on the conduct of videoconferencing.

Among the instances allowed is when a litigant or witness is an overseas Filipino or Filipino residing abroad or temporarily outside the Philippines.

The prosecution said Bunch will testify on the “undue injury that she suffered as a result of the precipitate action of the accused Puno” on Jan. 17.

The prosecution was directed to coordinate with the Philippine Consulate General in Houston, Texas to ensure the appearance of Bunch.

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