ERAP: Plaintiff’s Memorandum

LEGALLY SPEAKING 2 

This Commentary will point some of my views about the Plaintiff’s Memorandum for Crim. Case No. 26558 (Plunder), People of the Philippines vs. Joseph Ejercito Estrada, et.al., a copy of which was posted (downloadable) at the www.gmanews.tv website.  I only have two observations to discuss.

To start with, the Memorandum states that it is unfortunate for the defense that the eyewitness testimonies presented by the prosecution are fully supported by overwhelming documentary evidence on record consisting of “at least five hundred documents.  The Supreme Court in the case of Hugo v. Court of Appeals [388 SCRA 458, 469 (2002)] pointed that “Criminals are convicted not on the number of witnesses against them but on the quality of the testimony given under oath. The testimony of a single witness is sufficient to sustain a conviction, even of a charge of murder, if it is positive and credible. 

I was wondering why the Prosecution kept on insisting about the number of documents that they have adduced in support of the testimonies of their witnesses.  I don’t think it is even relevant to point that out since, with all due respect, the Justices are not blind to see various object evidences piling up the spaces of the Sandiganbayan.

Moreover, we have this so called “cumulative evidence,” which is prohibited under our jurisdiction.  I am not saying that the Prosecution’s astounding evidence is merely cumulative in character.  But that, the more one present evidence, documentary or otherwise, the more will the risk of merely proving something via cumulative evidence attach.

The Prosecution always claims that their “overwhelming” evidence are corroborative of each other.  I don’t know how “at least five hundred” documents would corroborate each other in that sense without falling into the realm of being merely repetitive and cumulative.

A trained sniper will bury the bullet in his adversary’s head with only a single click from his rifle.  That’s sweet.  The Prosecution projects this image, with all the overwhelming evidence they have presented before the Sandiganbayan, that they had a hard time makingout a case against Erap.  Of course, pinning a former President down is not an easy cake.  But, just the same, I expected more of their expertise than just repeatedly overstating the obvious.

For the record, they used the word “overwhelming” twelve (12) times, “voluminous” four (4) times, and “staggering” three (3) times.  Apart from this, another exaggeration is found in page 14 stating that Gov. Singson’s testimony is “filled with thousand of details.”

Last thing, the Memorandum states that “ironically, (Erap) should be pressing for speedy trial.”  Why? If an accused does not want to exercise a constitutional right, it does not mean any other thing.  Yes, it may mean that he is waiving it, in certain cases, but that will not go beyond that.  It does not mean fear of conviction or an implied admission of guilt.  For this matter, it is untowardly for the Prosecution to say those words that Erap should have pressed for speedy trial.  I know they are aware that the constitutional right to speedy trial is a personal one. Erap did not even raise it as an issue, why did the Memorandum speak of it? 

I was thinking it was a friendly advice for Erap.  But, that kind of advice should have come long before the submission of their Memorandum.  And again, nonetheless, what’s the point?

Photo credit: ccat.sas.upenn.edu

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