Pasay court hears Arroyo bail petition-A A +A
Thursday, March 15, 2012
MANILA -- The first hearing on the petition to fix bail filed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo before the Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) ended with a lengthy marking of evidence.
Prosecution lawyers led by Maria Juana Valeza and Arroyo's counsels, Benjamin Santos and Ray Montri Santos buckled down to work after the start of the hearing at the Pasay City RTC branch 112 of Judge Jesus Mupas to organize the voluminous documents submitted by the joint Department of Justice-Commission on Election to the court when they filed the electoral sabotage charges in connection with the alleged irregularities in the 2007 senatorial polls.
The prosecution said it intends to submit a total of 249 evidentiary exhibits and 42 witnesses, 12 of whom will be presented during the bail hearings.
Mupas has already set the subsequent bail hearings on March 22, 27 and 29.
But Valeza said they may dispense with the presentation of the other witnesses if the defense would be willing to stipulate on their testimonies.
For his part, Arroyo's counsels said they have to see the evidence to be presented by the prosecution first before they can agree to a stipulation.
Arroyo's camp had previously complained that they have not been furnished the documentary evidence during the preliminary investigation of the case before the joint DOJ-Comelec panel.
Likewise, the lawyer of Arroyo's fellow accused, former Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang Bedol complained of the delay in the bail hearing saying the poll body was wasting precious time instead of presenting their witnesses.
The court is also hearing Bedol's petition for bail simultaneously with that of the former chief executive though they have filed separate petitions.
Bedol's counsel, Reynaldo Princesa lamented in open court the failure of the Comelec to present the first witness in the bail hearing Thursday considering it is summary in nature to show whether their evidence against the accused in the case is strong.
However, the court allowed, as previously agreed upon, the Comelec to first mark their exhibits prior to the start of the presentation of the testimonial evidence.
"We are ready for the presentation of the first witness so that we could do things quickly but they wanted a pre-marking. This is a bail hearing. We can mark exhibits along the way. We are talking of the liberty of the accused here. We don't need delays because that is a denial of their right to speedy trial," he said.
Bedol pleaded not guilty to the charges last Monday while Arroyo made the same plea during her arraignment last month.
Only former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. has yet to be arraigned on the same charges as the court moved his arraignment to March 19 due to his medical condition. (AH/Sunnex)