Sandiganbayan: Jinggoy, Napoles can seek outright dismissal of plunder raps
MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan on Wednesday allowed former Senator Jinggoy Estrada and pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles to seek the outright dismissal of the plunder charges they are facing.
The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division granted their separate motions for leave to file demurrer to evidence in two resolutions released on Wednesday but were dated on March 13.
With the anti-graft court’s decision, Estrada and Napoles can now challenge the sufficiency of the evidence presented by the prosecution concerning the plunder case.
“After a meticulous examination of the totality of the evidence presented by the prosecution, both testimonial and documentary, the court resolves to grant the present motion of the accused, to sufficiently provide him an opportunity to challenge the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence establishing the material elements of the offense needed to support a judgment of guilt,” the resolution for Estrada’s motion said.
The resolutions were signed by Fifth Division chair Associate Justice Rafael Lagos, and Associate Justices Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac.
Both Estrada and Napoles were given 10 days from the receipt of the resolution to file their respective demurrers, while the prosecution is given another 10 days after the accused’s camps file their documents to submit comments before the court makes a decision on the charges.
According to Estrada, the prosecution has not proven and substantiated its case against him, adding that there are no pieces of evidence pointing to him as the “main plunderer” or the pork barrel scam’s mastermind.
The prosecution then countered that it was able to prove that Estrada accumulated ill-gotten wealth after the former senator allegedly gained P55.79 million due to the scheme.
In addition to that, the prosecution claimed that Estrada was “an active participant in the conspiracy to commit plunder,” based on the idea the he has the “sole and exclusive control over his PDAF allocation.”
“Even assuming that Napoles was the one who conceived the scheme, the fact is, it was Estrada who was in control of his PDAF and not accused Napoles,” the court said, relaying the prosecution’s stance.
Estrada is accused of plunder, after allegedly pocketing part of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) when he allocated P183 million to fake non-government organizations set-up by Napoles.
Other former Senators Bong Revilla and Juan Ponce Enrile were also charged with plunder during the previous administration for PDAF-related cases. Revilla was acquitted in December 2018, while Enrile’s trial is ongoing before the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division. /jpv
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