The Sandiganbayan has denied the motion of former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile to exclude a prosecution witness’ judicial affidavit as evidence in the P172-million plunder case against him.
The case is an offshoot of the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam involving Janet Napoles.
In a resolution dated January 13, the anti-graft court ruled that lawyer Ryan Medrano’s judicial affidavit is allowed by court rules because Medrano—as one of the members of the Special Team I formed by the Ombudsman which conducted a fact-finding investigation on the release and use of Enrile’s Priority Development Assistance Fund—was an investigator who could testify on the authenticity, due execution and contents of, among others, the complaint he and his team prepared.
PDAF, or pork barrel, was the discretionary fund of legislators provided under the national budget. The pork barrel scam has prompted the Supreme Court to declare it illegal in 2013.
“Atty. Medrano, together with the other members of Special Team I, evaluated documents from, among others, the Commission on Audit, and conducted interviews with some municipal officials, as well as the beneficiaries of the project funded by Enrile’s PDAF. The Team then prepared a Complaint against Enrile, et al. for plunder and violation of Republic Act No. 3019, respectively,” the Sandiganbayan said.
But the anti-graft court said Enrile will be given the opportunity to cross-examine the witness in satisfaction of his constitutional right to confrontation.
“Enrile’s culpability or innocence will not be based on the testimony of Atty. Medrano. While he (and the other Special Team 1 members) interviewed municipal officials, beneficiaries and ‘whistle-blowers’ who, for their part, executed their respective sworn statements, the probative value of these documents will still depend on, inter alia, whether the said witnesses will appear in court to identify their affidavits,” the resolution said.
“The Court allows the use of the judicial affidavit of Atty. Medrano in the present case, subject to additional direct and cross-examination questions, and in light of all the foregoing the Court denies the Objection to the Use of Judicial Affidavit of Atty. Ryan P. Medrano filed by accused Juan Ponce Enrile for lack of merit.”
The high court allowed the 96-year old former senator to post bail on humanitarian grounds in August 2015.