Napoles asks Sandiganbayan to junk Malampaya fund scam charges
Businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles has asked the Sandiganbayan Third Division to dismiss her 194 criminal charges in connection with the P900-million Malampaya fund scam.
In a 21-page motion to quash dated Feb. 20, Napoles argued that as a private individual who was not accountable for public funds, she could not be charged with 97 counts each of graft and the complex crime of malversation through falsification.
Napoles claimed there was no proof of “conspiracy with a public officer” for her to be held liable for the alleged offenses, which were similar to the P10-billion pork barrel fund scheme she was also accused of masterminding.
She argued that the Ombudsman prosecutors failed to show that she received undue favor or advantage from Arroyo administration officials accused of diverting the funds to the ghost projects of 12 dubious nongovernment organizations she allegedly ran.
Napoles even claimed that if anybody should be charged with conspiracy over the Malampaya scam, it should be her employees-turned-whistleblowers Benhur Luy, Merlina Suñas and Marina Sula.
“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 this case. Their guilt has been established by their very own words,” the motion read.
The Office of the Ombudsman, in a 17-page opposition dated March 9, objected to Napoles’s motion and stressed that she should face trial as the alleged scheme had been clearly detailed in the charge sheets.
Prosecutors said the charges explicitly stated that Napoles “used her own bogus non-government organization as a fund conduit” to receive the discretionary funds for the purported implementation of the livelihood projects.
It is alleged that that her children and her brother forged the request letters supposedly sent by the mayors of 97 towns and cities in Luzon devastated by widespread flooding in 2009.
“Clearly, the allegation of conspiracy in the instant cases, and the facts averred to support such allegation, satisfies the standard of law and jurisprudence on the matter,” the opposition read.
Napoles is accused of using the following NGOs: Abundant Harvest for People’s Foundation, Inc. (AHPFI), Bukirin Tanglaw Foundation, Inc. (BTFI), Dalangpan Sang Amon Utod Kag Kasimanwa Foundation, Inc. (DSAUKKFI), Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc. (GAMF), Gintong Pangkabuhayan Foundation, Inc. (GPFI), Kaupdan Para Sa Mangunguma Foundation, Inc. (KMFI), Karangayan Para sa Magbubukid Foundation, Inc. (KPMFI), Kasaganahan Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc. (KPSMFI), Micro Agri Business Citizens Initiative Foundation, Inc. (MABCF), Masaganang Buhay Foundation, Inc. (MBFI), Saganang Buhay sa Atin Foundation, Inc. (SBAFI), and Tanglaw Para sa Magsasaka Foundation, Inc. (TPSMFI).
Indicted public officials include two cabinet secretaries of then-President (now-Pampanga 2nd Dist. Rep.) Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo: Rolando Andaya Jr. and Nasser Pangandaman.
Pangandaman was accused of receiving commissions from Napoles through former Candaba, Pampanga, Mayor Rene Maglanque in exchange for making the necessary requests for the release of the discretionary funds by the Department of Budget and Management.
The National Bureau of Investigation originally included former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita in its complaint, on the ground that her Executive Order No. 848 made it possible to use the funds under the guise of assistance to the flooding victims.
But, the Ombudsman said in its December 2016 resolution that there was no probable cause to charge Arroyo and Ermita because the EO had a legal basis on Section 8 of Presidential Decree No. 910, before it was declared unconstitutional for diverting the gas field royalties to uses outside the energy industry. /cbb
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