Sandiganbayan warns prosecutors of contempt citation for being ‘overeager'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 21) — The Sandiganbayan has warned a group of state prosecutors of a possible contempt citation for issuing a subpoena to a witness, contrary to a previous court order.

During proceedings held on Sept. 13, the anti-graft court’s Seventh Division accepted the explanation of assistant prosecutor 1 Joshua Tan, assistant ombudsman Leilani Cabras, assistant special prosecutor 1 Vincent Salvani IV, and assistant special prosecutor 1 Maricel Pintucan.

“They are, however, warned that a repetition of a similar act will be dealt with more seriously,” the court said in a resolution released recently.

The prosecution wanted the court to subpoena a certain Dr. Esmael Abdul for issuing a medical certificate that was used by defense lawyer Lazaro Galindez Jr. to seek the cancellation of a trial hearing as he was suffering from a bacterial infection.

Galindez represents one of the respondents in a graft case handled by Tan and the other prosecutors.

However, the court denied the request and decided to give the doctor presumption of regularity as it would be burdensome for him to appear in court over the matter.

It was later found that the team of prosecutors went ahead and issued a subpoena for Dr. Abdul under the guise of a “case conference” which led to the issuance of a show cause order against them.

The prosecutors explained they did not trust the validity of the medical certificate. They told the court that they had no choice but to summon the doctor to find out the truth for “their own peace of mind” and as part of overall case work.

The court decided to consider the prosecution’s explanation.

“While the prosecution’s actions appear to be overeager, the court will interpret them as a result of their zeal in prosecuting the case and advancing their cause for a speedy trial,” the court said.