SEASONED lawyer Lorna Kapunan has reportedly withdrawn as the legal counsel of alleged pork barrel fund scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles in her serious illegal detention case.
In fact, Kapunan was a no-show in the resumption of the bail petition hearing of her client on Wednesday at the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150.
Instead of appearing at the hearing, Kapunan went to the office of RTC Branch 150 together with her assisting lawyers and staff and wrote a note on a piece of paper.
While Kapunan was writing the note, Judge Elmo Alameda started the hearing where pork barrel fund scam whistleblower Benhur Luy took again the stand for the continuation of the cross examination by the defense panel.
At this juncture Alameda called for a short recess and proceeded to his office.
After a few minutes, the judge entered the courtroom carrying the supposed Kapunan’s note, which he later handed to the prosecution panel headed by Assitant City Prosecutor Christopher Garvida.
“That is confidential. That is not from me,” Alameda told Garvida while handing him the note.
Garvida then asked the court for in-chamber together with the defense lawyers, one of which is lawyer Alfredo Villamor, the collaborating counsel for Napoles, where Kapunan joined the conference.
Both Garvida and Villamor refused to confirm nor deny Kapunan’s withdrawal as Napoles legal counsel.
They also refused to talk about Kapunan’s note saying that it is “confidential” and that judge won’t allow them to do so.
But during the recess, Villamor and some of the prosecutors would even discuss Kapunan’s absence from the hearing.
“Ano ba ang nangyari [what really happened]?” a prosecutor asked Villamor.
Villamor hinted that Kapunan might just felt sullen because she was not allowed by the client to handle the cross examination of Luy.
Before the trial ended on Tuesday, Kapunan even told the court that she will handle the cross examination of Luy.
But on Wednesday’s hearing, it was Villamor who cross examined Luy, the one who filed the case against Napoles.
“Baka nagtatampo lang yun kasi gusto niya siya ang mag cross examine pero sabi ng kliyente pag siya ang humawak baka humaba pa ang hearing,” Villamor told the prosecutor.
For her part, clerk of court Diosfa Valencia said that Kapunan remains Napoles’ lawyer until she files a formal notice of withdrawal before the court.
She added that the court has not received yet any motion from Kapunan expressing her intention of withdrawing from Napoles’ case.
“As far as the court is concerned, Kapunan is still the counsel in the case,” she told reporters in an interview.
Besides Napoles, Kapunan has handled other controversial cases involving showbiz personalities such as James Yap and Hayden Kho. RITCHIE A. HORARIO