Binay downplays Tuason testimony vs UNA allies

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Monday, February 10, 2014


VICE President Jejomar Binay on Monday downplayed the claim that the affidavit executed by Ruby Tuason constitutes a "damning" piece of evidence to pin down his allies in the opposition.

Binay who is a lawyer explained that there are requirements to qualify as a state witness in reaction to reports that Ruby Tuason is being eyed as state witness against those charged in the pork barrel scam.

"There are some requirements before one becomes state witness. That is one, he is the least guilty, the least guilty. Number one requirement ‘yun. Number two, the evidence of the prosecution is weak and it necessitates to have a state witness," Binay said.

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Binay added that as far as he knows the return of moneys does not extinguish the criminal liability.

He also said that his allies Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, Senators Jose Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. who now face plunder complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman are willing to face all the charges.

"They’re willing now to face all the charges. They will undergo the process," Binay said.

But Binay's camp thru his spokesman Joey Salgado, was quick to clarify that the vice-president, who is a member of the Aquino Cabinet fully supports the administration's reform agenda.

Salgado said that the Vice President believes that the pursuit of reform must be in accordance with the processes required by law.

Salgado further said that Binay, as a lawyer, wishes to emphasize that only the courts can decide who can qualify as a state witness in criminal cases.

"There is a process that must be observed. Government prosecutors must first file a motion in court to discharge the would-be state witness from the rest of the accused and for the same person to be declared a state witness. The law also requires that for one to qualify as a state witness, he or she should be the least guilty and the evidence of the prosecution is weak thereby needing the testimony of the would-be state witness," Salgado said.

He said that Vice President Binay feels that any declaration that a person will be a state witness prior to approval of the court would be premature, misleading and not in keeping with the rule of the law.

The statement of the Vice President is intended as a reminder for the Department of Justice that there are legal processes to be followed and this administration is committed to the rule of law, Salgado said.

Salgado reminded the Secretary of Justice that the presumption of innocence is enshrined in the Constitution.

"That some personalities involved in the PDAF controversy are his political allies is incidental. This Constitutional right extends to all, allies and foes alike. This is what the Vice President fought for as a human rights lawyer—along with countless others—during martial law. This is the Vice President's personal crusade," Salgado said. (Jun M. Sarmiento)

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