PORK barrel fund scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles will be presented by her lawyers as principal witness to the serious illegal detention case filed against her by former employee and cousin Benhur Luy.
Napoles was among the 18 witnesses to be presented by the defense panel at the start of the formal trial on February 18 next year.
On Monday’s pre-trial conference, Napoles’ legal counsel Alfred Villamor told Judge Elmo Alameda of the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 that Napoles would be presented to refute Luy’s allegations that he was detained against his will.
Luy, who is also the accuser in the pork barrel fund scam, claimed that he was detained by Napoles and her brother Reynald “Jojo” Lim to prevent him from exposing the alleged anomaly in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of some lawmakers.
Besides Napoles, Villamor also told the court that they will also present Lim, if he decides to surface and some Catholic priests who took care of Luy when he was undergoing spiritual retreat at Bahay ni San Jose in Magallanes Village, Makati City.
The defense panel’s other witnesses include Patricio Asoy, William Lim, Msgr. Josefino Ramirez, Fr. Paul Yang, Fr. Peter Guo, Fr. Joseph Gao, Fr. John Ma, Fr. Paul Dong, Abelardo Gernale, Jethron Bande, Madylon Habana, Ana Marie Lim, Fernando Masayon, Feliciano Alcantara, Expedito Rosales and Peter John Castillo.
“They will be testifying on the fact that Benhur Luy was not detained against his will,” Villamor told the court.
For its part, the prosecution panel headed by Makati City prosecutor Christopher Garvida said they will be presenting five more witnesses besides the eight witnesses they presented during the bail petition hearing of Napoles.
He said one of the five witnesses is the bank manager or any representative of the Metrobank Ortigas branch who will testify on the transfer of Luy’s deposits to Napoles’ JLN Corp.
Meanwhile, Alameda vowed to expedite the trial of Napoles’ case as it set the formal trial.
Garvida wanted the trial set once a month, which was vehemently opposed by Napoles’ legal counsel.
Favoring Villamor’s sentiments, Alameda scheduled the trial thrice a month which will start to expedite the resolution of the case.
“As much as possible we want to finish the trial within a year,” Alameda said.
Meanwhile, Alameda gave the prosecution panel 30 days to reply on the motion for reconsideration filed by Napoles’ counsel on the decision of Alameda to deny their petition for bail.
The defense panel, in turn, has 10 days to submit their reply to the prosecution’s counter motion.
In its motion for reconsideration, the prosecution panel maintained that the court “committed a reversible error in resolving that the evidence of the prosecution against accused is strong.”
“It is crystal clear that the evidence of the prosecution against accused Janet Lim-Napoles is not strong,” said Villamor in his motion for reconsideration.
In addition, Villamor said “the evidence so far presented inevitably show that Benhur was not detained. Thus, he did not want or need to be rescued at any time.”
Contrary to the claim of detention, Villamor said, Luy was in constant communication with his family because he was free to call and update them at any time.
“Finally, prosecution witnesses have been proven to be unreliable, their testimonies have been muddled by their own inconsistencies and afterthoughts,” he added.