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    Posted March 10, 2014 by

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    Witness qualified to testify, says Phl senator

    PHILIPPINE Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Monday said Technology Research Center director Dennis Cunanan is qualified to be a state witness even if it could be proved that he was lying when he denied that he received “pork barrel” kickbacks.
    In a speech at Assumption College Makati, Santiago stressed that the Rules of Court, Rule 119, Sec. 17, allows an accused to become a state witness "if it appears that he is not the most guilty."
    The lady senator, a former law professor and regional trial court judge, clarified that the legal provision is often mistaken by laymen to mean that the state witness should be "the least guilty."
    "These two concepts are often mistaken as meaning the same thing. They mean different things," Santiago said.
    She said the state witness rule is an exception to the rule that when a witness is caught lying in one detail, he should be presumed to be lying in all details.
    Santiago cited the 2008 case of Tarapen v. People, where the Supreme Court ruled: "The testimony of a witness maybe believed in part and disbelieved in another, depending on the corroborative evidence or the probabilities and improbabilities of the case." The senator cited the 2003 case of People vs. Masapol, where the Supreme Court ruled: "The doctrine of falsus in uno falsus in omnibus, (meaning false in one, false in all) deals only with the weight of evidence, and is not a positive rule of law, and the same is not an inflexible one of universal application."
    "Neither the justice secretary nor the Ombudsman has the power to admit a state witness. This power is reserved for the trial court, meaning the graft court. The only power of the justice secretary is to admit a person into the Witness Protection Program. The only power of the Ombudsman is to conduct a preliminary investigation. The best that the Ombudsman can do is to file a motion with the graft court to admit some of the accused as state witnesses," she said.
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