Napoles kids refuse to enter plea in graft raps
Video by Noy Morcoso lll/INQUIRER.net
MANILA, Philippines —The children of accused pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles refused to enter any plea during their arraignment for graft at the Sandiganbayan on Wednesday.
James Christopher and Jo Christine said they refused to enter a plea in the 15 counts of graft each filed against them upon the advice of their counsel. The court thus entered a not guilty plea for both.
On their way to the courtroom earlier, the siblings shunned reporters and used folders to cover their faces.
In the commotion, James Christopher bumped his head on the door as he entered the court. His sister appealed to reporters to respect their privacy.
“Kuya, kinasuhan na kami eh (We’re already charged in court),” Jo Christine told a reporter who was taking pictures.
Napoles’ children are coaccused in the graft case against Senator Juan Ponce Enrile for the alleged funneling of some P345 million in pork barrel funds to fake foundations set up by their mother. Enrile is under hospital detention for plunder.
Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and his staff Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule and Marilou Bare also did not enter a plea during Wednesday’s arraignment. Respondents Rodrigo Galay, Hernani Dichon and Laarni Uy, on the other hand, entered a “not guilty” plea.
Napoles’ children earlier asked the court to dismiss the charges against them. But the antigraft court junked their petition for lack of merit.
In their motion for reconsideration, the siblings said there was no evidence to show that they conspired with their mother in the alleged scheme to divert the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to ghost projects for kickbacks.
They added that the charges against them were based on the testimony of whistleblower Marina Sula, who they said was a “polluted source” because she admitted to participating in the alleged scam.
They also said the evidence tagged the whistleblowers as being the officials of the dummy foundations used in the scam.
Napoles’ children also said that the evidence did not show that they had any personal or official transactions with the accused public officials.
“The allegation that Jo Christine and James Christopher Napoles acted in conspiracy with their co-accused is anchored on the dubious testimony of Marina Sula. It is not supported by any other independent evidence that would corroborate the contention that both accused acted in concert with their mother,” their motion read.
The accused then pinned the blame on the whistleblowers who admitted a hand in the scam but were given immunity from charges for testifying.
“If there are conspirators in the instant case, evidently these are the witnesses being presented by the prosecution, and their guilt cannot be sheltered by testifying in his case. Their guilt has been established by their very own words,” it said.
Napoles’ children to be arraigned for graft in pork barrel case
Originally posted: 3:02 PM | Wednesday, November 19th, 2014
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