Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said that Janet Lim Napoles, now detained at Sta. Rosa, Laguna under maximum security, should avail of a procedure called “perpetuation of testimony” under the Rules of Court.
Santiago said perpetuation of testimony is the procedure for preserving for future use any witness testimony that might otherwise be unavailable at trial.
The procedure is part of what the Rules of Court call “deposition and discovery,” which is intended to take place before trial, in order to assure that the evidence will be preserved when trial begins, even if something happens to the witness.
The senator said that a deposition will consist of Napoles’ written testimony that is given in writing outside of the court.
She also explained that discovery is given if a party to a criminal case requests compulsory disclosure of information that relates to the litigation.
The former RTC judge said that depositions and discovery constitute the pretrial phase of a law suit.
“Any adverse event could prevent Napoles from fully identifying the senators and congressmen with whom she had PDAF transactions. For example, any of the suspects could hire operatives to silence her, or she might inflict physical damage on herself. She might contract a life-threatening ailment. For any of these reasons, the Rules of Court allows her to give her testimony well before trial,” the senator said.
Santiago said that Napoles can make a deposition, even before trial begins in court.
“If Napoles decides to perpetuate her testimony in order to reduce the level of threats to her security, she has to file a verified petition in court,” the senator said.
Santiago said that among the contents of the petition one of the most important is the name of the persons that Napoles expect will be adverse parties, meaning the lawmakers who gave pork barrel funds to Napoles-related NGOs.
“The court should grant the petition for deposition if the perpetuation of the testimony may prevent a failure or delay of justice,” she said.
Santiago said that the law is found in the Rules of Court, Rule 134, entitled “Perpetuation of testimony.”
“It can reasonably be expected that Napoles will name the senators and representatives as expected adverse parties. The Rules require her to serve notice at least 20 days before the date of hearing,” she said.
In another development, Santiago, who has been on extended sick leave for acute chronic fatigue, told her staff that she will appear in the Senate to preside over the hearing of the Commission on Appointments Committee on Foreign Affairs, this coming Wednesday, September 4, in the morning.
“It will be a dress rehearsal for when I shall attend sessions regularly,” the senator said.