Napoles asks Sandigan to reconsider denial of contest plea on plunder rap
MANILA, Philippines — Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles has asked the Sandiganbayan to reconsider its June 13 ruling that denied her and fellow accused former Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s demurrer to evidence.
In a 30-page motion for reconsideration received by the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division on June 19, Napoles cited the case of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo where the Supreme Court made a “doctrinal pronouncement” that “the law on plunder cases requires that a particular public officer must be identified as the one who amassed, acquired or accumulated ill-gotten wealth…”
This condition, Napoles’ camp claimed, was not fulfilled since “all of the 112 additional witnesses did not testify that former senator Estrada was the main plunderer or mastermind of the present plunder case.”
To recall, Arroyo was acquitted in the P366-million plunder case in connection to the funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
“Not even main whistleblower Benhur Luy testified to the effect that accused former senator Estrada was the mastermind of the PDAF scheme,” her motion added.
“Thus, applying the [Arroyo] case, the failure of the prosecution to allege and prove that the accused public officer personally benefited from the charge of plunder is fatal and therefore, warrants the dismissal of the case,” it further said.
The prosecution also failed to state how much Estrada, or his aide Pauline Labayen, received from the total project cost of P183,793,750, Napoles argued, pointing out that plunder is committed when “any public officer who, by himself or in connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt criminal acts in the aggregate amount at least P50 million.”
The Sandiganbayan earlier denied the demurrer to evidence filed by Estrada because it was established that he gave the nod in transferring part of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus nongovernment organizations owned by Napoles.
A demurrer to evidence is a document which contests the evidence presented by the prosecution. Granting of this could mean the dismissal of plunder cases against Estrada and Napoles. (Editor: Katherine G. Adraneda)
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