Sandiganbayan resets arraignment of Napoles children
MANILA, Philippines—The Sandiganbayan on Friday postponed the arraignment of the two children of suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles after they appealed their indictment for graft in connection with the alleged misuse of some P345 million in pork barrel allotments of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.
Dennis Pulma, Sandiganbayan Third Division clerk of court, said the three-member division would have to resolve first the motion for reconsideration filed by Jo Christine Napoles and his younger brother James Christopher before they would be arraigned.
“The arraignment scheduled on Oct. 13 would have to be moved to another date until such time that the court is able to rule on the motion for reconsideration,” Pulma told reporters.
He, however, said the arraignment of the 11 other private individuals tagged in the graft case would proceed as scheduled on Monday.
Stephen David, lead counsel of the Napoles family, argued that the Napoles siblings were not involved in the alleged funneling of Enrile’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations to the fake foundations set up by their mother.
“They have no participation (in the alleged scam). In fact, their names and signatures did not appear in the documents,” David said.
“They were still students during the period when the (alleged crime) transpired,” he added.
In their motion for reconsideration, the Napoles’ children maintained that the court erred in issuing its Sept. 29 resolution which found probable cause in filing 15 counts of graft against them.
The court also approved the issuance of arrest warrants against them.
They claimed the testimonies of whistle-blowers Benhur Luy, Marina Sula and Merlina Sunas “are bereft of credibility and their testimonies are not supported by evidence” and that they “should not be given weight” by the court.
“The testimonies of (Luy, Sunas and Sula) are bereft of credibility as the testimonies are polluted sources and should be viewed with suspicion,” they said.
“Assuming without admitting that the whistle-blowers are correct… the information against both accused should still be dismissed as there is no showing that both… acted with conspiracy with any of their coaccused,” they added.
Meanwhile, David said they would ask the court to drop the graft cases against Napoles since the information that the Office of the Ombudsman mentioned in the graft complaints were the same as those contained in the plunder case.
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