FORMER Justice Sec. Hernando “Nani” Perez asked the Sandiganbayan to junk the falsification charge against him for failure of the Office of the Ombudsman to prop up the case, even raising the non-appearance of its star witness, Mark Jimenez.
In a 33-page demurrer to evidence, the former cabinet member of former president and now Rep. Gloria Arroyo raised that apart from Jimenez’ no-show, the totality of the evidence against him is too weak.
The defense said that despite the case being a product of his complaint against Perez, Jimenez filed an affidavit of desistance on a later date. On subpoena, the former Manila lawmaker “did not appear” before the court, even if he was sent a show cause order.
“Jimenez’ affidavit of desistance and his deliberate failure to appear are thus clear indications that the case of the prosecution is unsustainable,” the demurrer read.
The case stemmed from the alleged forgery of Perez in his 2001 SALN where he failed to disclose the source of his $1.7 million foreign bank deposits.
Perez and his wife, Rosario, were slapped with charges regarding their bank accounts 338-118 and 348-118 in European Financial Group (EFG) Private Bank SA which held foreign notes.
Also in his complaint, Jimenez charged Perez of extorting $2 million from him in exchange for not being named a co-defendant in the Estrada plunder case.
The defense camp said that the five witnesses of the prosecution relied heavily on the affidavit of Jimenez against Perez.
Melchor Arthur Carandang, prosecution witness and an employee of the Ombudsman who investigated the complaint, said that he did not know if the Civil Service Commission recommend to the Ombudsman the filing of the criminal case against the defendant.
The witness also lacked personal knowledge on the contents of the bank records of EFG Private Bank SA.
“Investigators do not mean that they are personally qualified to testify on matters they investigated,” Perez said at one point during trial.
Another witness of the Ombudsman, Ma. Olivia Elena Roxas, “did not have personal knowledge of the facts” of the case which the Field Investigation Office prepared because she did not participate in the investigation and preparation of reports, Perez asserted.
Likewise, witness Jaime Ledda was clueless of the Ombudsman’s marked exhibits.
“In other words, the witnesses for the prosecution did not testify on matters which were of personal knowledge to them,” Perez said, which contradicts Section 36, Rule 10 of the Rules of Court.
The provision states that “[a]witness can testify only to those facts which he knows of his personal knowledge,” excluding hearsay.
Perez said that the testimonies of the state’s witnesses are inadmissible for being “insufficient, proves nothing, have no weight and not accorded any legal value.”
In closing, he said that for insufficiency of evidence, the falsification charge must be thrown out.
The falsification suit against Perez is the last and only active criminal case out of four charges that he has faced after the anti-graft court’s First and Second Divisions junked the extortion and graft charges against the Perez couple, his brother-in-law Ramon Arceo, and business associate Ernest Escaler.