• Abalos’ evidence in NBN-ZTE deal ‘self-serving’

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    THE Office of the Ombudsman pressed the Sandiganbayan to reject the body of evidence that former Elections chief Benjamin Abalos filed as they were allegedly “self-serving.”

    According to state lawyers, the 21 documents that Abalos submitted as formal offer of evidence should be denied as they are “immaterial and irrelevant.”

    While state prosecutors, did not object the existence of Abalos’ evidence, the fiscals prodded the Sandiganbayan to reject all 21 documents.

    In his offer, Abalos previously wanted to submit a Court of Appeal decision, details of which was not included in the offer, to prove the “propensity” of Jose de Venecia 3rd, son of the former House speaker and chief of the Amsterdam Holdings, Inc. (AHI), a bidder in the NBN deal.

    The defense also offered a letter of a certain Ernesto Garcia to former Transportation secretary Leandro Mendoza to prove that de Venecia’s AHI proposal was filed only in January 2007 “and not in December 2006.”

    Abalos also asked the court to take in the transcript stenographic notes (TSN) of Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada’s cross-examination when the whistleblower took the stand.

    The defense said that Lozada testified that he persuaded a third NBN project proponent to withdraw its proposal to only facilitate the proposals of AHI and ZTE.

    However, the prosecutors said that the TSN of Lozada came from a different division of the Sandiganbayan that to present it in Abalos’ case is “incompetent and self-serving.”

    They also wanted hardcopies of colored video presentation plates regarding the Davao Special Economic Zone be scrapped.

    Initially, Abalos wanted to use those to prove that he was only tapped by ZTE to assist in the establishment of an economic zone in Mindanao “and nothing as regards establishing a broadband network.”

    But prosecutors noted that to those documents are “irrelevant” to the case as they are “are unsigned, undated and not authenticated in accordance with the Rules of Evidence.”

    “It is most respectfully prayed that the foregoing formal offer of documentary exhibits of the accused be denied admission for being self-serving, incompetent and irrelevant,” the Ombudsman urged the anti-graft court. JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON

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