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Enrile, co-accused in graft case question COA's evidence on PDAF use

Former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, his ex-chief of staff Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, and other co-accused in 15 counts of graft cases over the use of Priority Development Assistance Fund questioned the authenticity of Commission on Audit (COA) documents presented by state lawyers on Thursday's hearing at the Sandiganbayan.

Defense lawyers repeatedly asked prosecution witness and then COA special administrative officer Lolita Soriano if she is 100 percent sure that the documents submitted to COA by the implementing agencies, which allegedly benefitted from the funds, were indeed sourced from original copies.

These implementing agencies, which are all state-run, include the National Livelihood Development Corporation, Technology Resource Center (TRC) and the National Agribusiness Corporation.

Asked by the defense counsels if she saw the original document which is the source of the facsimile showing an April 18, 2007 letter signed by Reyes, Soriano replied “I saw the original facsimile, not the original copy.”

State prosecutor Ferdinand Garzon objected and said the question is misleading.

"She is testifying to the original facsimile, not the original letter, your honors," Garzon said.

Sandiganbyan Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez, however, overruled the objection.

The defense counsels then proceeded to ask Soriano if she was certain the documents submitted by TRC to COA were in the custody of the former.

Soriano replied, saying, “I am sure they are in the implementing agencies because they are the ones who submitted it.”

Lawyer Christian Diaz, counsel for Reyes, also quizzed Soriano if she saw the original copies of eight endorsement letters allegedly signed by Reyes.

Prosecutor Garzon objected again, saying that Soriano is “incompetent to answer the question since she is only records custodian.”

Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Oscar Moreno then asked the COA officer why she did not demand original copies from the implementing agencies.

Soriano answered, “iyon pong mga files namin sa COA-SAO (Special Audit Office) , iyon lang po [ang sakop ko]."—LDF, GMA Integrated News