Court excludes key witness in Elenita Binay corruption case
MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has made final its decision: the testimony of a former Makati city councilor – a key witness – will not be admitted as evidence against former Makati mayor Elenita Binay in her P72-million graft case.
The Sandiganbayan’s 5th Division denied the prosecution’s appeal to keep the testimony of former Makati councilor Ernesto Aspillaga in its case against Binay.
Aspillaga said Binay pre-selected a contractor for their 1999 purchase of office fixtures for the Makati City Hall, which was allegedly overpriced by P21.54 million.
Aspillaga’s proof was a supposed handwritten note from Binay where she scribbled “Office Gallery” as the chosen supplier, referring to Office Gallery International. This violates bidding and procurement rules.
But Aspillaga said he threw out the handwritten note because he “will not keep any wrong notes.”
Without corroborative evidence, the Court said it cannot admit the testimony alone.
“To be clear, corroboration of accused Binay’s alleged central involvement in the bid-rigging does not rest solely on the handwritten note or in the production thereof. It is incumbent upon the prosecution to present corroborating evidence that the bid-rigging was initiated upon the instruction of accused Binay,” the court said in a resolution signed by Associate Justices Rafael R. Lagos, Maria Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega, and Maryann E. Corpus-Mañalac.
Aspillaga had testified before the Senate before accusing the Binays of rigging most biddings in Makati, but the Court said the former councilor flip-flopped in this case in terms of Binay's accountability.
Aspillaga was initially charged alongside Binay but he was used by Ombudsman prosecutors as witness.
The prosecution said they have no more witness to present. The Sandiganbayan instructed the prosecutors to make a formal offer of evidence, after which the judgment will be handed down.
Binay has scored previous victories in her corruption cases. – Rappler.com