Court defers Binay hearing

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The Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division deferred hearing the complaint filed against former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay and several former city officials over the allegedly overpriced purchase of office furniture for the New Makati City Hall Building.

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“Due to the pending incidents to this case, let the trial be reset to January 28, 2016,” Associate Justice Roland Jurado, who leads the Fifth Division, said.

The prosecution asked the court to reconsider its denial of their pleas seeking to present former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado and former councilor Ernesto Aspillaga as witnesses. Mercado who was not among the witnesses listed on the pre-trial order.

The panel cited the hearing held on January 29 where Commission on Audit (COA) Commissioner Heidi Mendoza testified on a purported original of the audit report and said that Mercado personally handed the document to her.

But in its ruling, the court pointed out that Mercado has no official connection with COA.

Moreover, the prosecution wanted to drop Aspillaga from the charge sheet and present him as state witness.

Aspillaga, who formerly led the Makati City General Services, allegedly confessed that the public biddings in the city were just “moro-moro [for show].”

In persuading the court, they said his declarations before the Senate Blue Ribbon in September last year were evidence that they could not have foreseen when they were presenting their case.

But the court dismissed their arguments.

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