SC affirms Napoles indictment for graft
THE SUPREME Court has affirmed the Office of the Ombudsman’s indictment of Janet Lim-Napoles and three other alleged cohorts charged with graft in connection with the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.
During its Tuesday en banc session, the high court issued three separate rulings dismissing the petitions against the Ombudsman’s graft findings, Theodore O. Te, the tribunal’s Public Information Office chief, said in a briefing.
The Supreme Court found that the Ombudsman did not commit grave abuse of discretion in ordering the filing of graft charges in the Sandiganbayan.
“The court deferred to the findings of the Ombudsman in the absence of grave abuse of discretion,” Te said.
Napoles was charged with three counts of graft, malversation of public funds and corruption of public officers in connection with the anomalous disbursements of former Cagayan de Oro Rep. Constantino G. Jaraula’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), a pork barrel, from 2004 to 2007. The disbursements totaled P50 million.
She likewise faced the same charges for the PDAF disbursements of former Benguet Rep. Samuel M. Dangwa from 2004 to 2007, amounting to P54 million.
The Supreme Court declared the PDAF unconstitutional in 2013.
Napoles’ driver, John Raymund de Asis, and former National Agribusiness Corp. president Alan A. Javellana also challenged their indictments but they failed to get them annulled.
Javellana and former Technology Resource Center Director General Antonio Y. Ortiz also challenged their indictment for several counts of graft arising from the PDAF disbursements for former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada. These petitions were denied as well.
Revilla and Estrada are in detention while standing trial in connection with the plunder charges related to the misuse of their PDAF.
Napoles was accused of masterminding an elaborate scheme to misuse P10 billion in lawmakers’ PDAF allocations by diverting them to fraudulent nongovernment organizations under her control.
She was sentenced to up to 40 years’ imprisonment in April 2015 for the illegal detention of her longtime aide and scam whistle-blower, Benhur K. Luy.
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