Napoles asks Sandiganbayan anew to dismiss plunder case
MANILA, Philippines – Convicted pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles has again sought the dismissal of her plunder case before the Sandiganbayan, based on claims that evidence presented was insufficient.
According to the 31-page motion submitted to the Fifth Division last July 30, Napoles’ legal counsel Rony Garay said that the absence of a specific public official as the main plunderer is tantamount to the case’s dismissal.
“All the evidence of the prosecution, taken together as shown herein-above, still fail to identify the main plunderer, an essential element of the crime of plunder as held in the GMA case,” the motion said.
Garay was referring to the dismissed plunder case involving former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, which Sandiganbayan cited in denying Napoles’ previous motion which also sought for the case’s dismissal.
According to the anti-graft court, the main plunderer should be pointed to when the accused are all public officials like in the Arroyo case, but no main offender is determined when the case involves private citizens — instead, all accused will be called co-conspirators to the crime.
“According to the assailed Resolution, the Information in the GMA case involves ten (10) public officers where the main plunderer was not identified unlike in the above-entitled case which involves two (2) public officers and 2 private persons wherein the main plunderers are the 2 public officers, accused Jose ‘Jinggoy’ Estrada and accused Pauline Therese Mary C. Labayen,” Napoles’ camp insisted.
“It is possible for the main plunderer to exist alone without any co-conspirator as stated in the law on Plunder itself, it is never possible for a co-conspirator for Plunder to exist without a main plunderer,” they added.
However, Garay says this ruling from the Sandiganbayan has no legal basis.
“But with due deference, that conclusion in the assailed Resolution has no basis in law and prevailing jurisprudence because the main plunderer can commit the crime of plunder not only in conspiracy with private persons but also in conspiracy with his or her subordinates as well, like in the GMA case,” the petition noted.
Napoles is accused of providing kickbacks to former Senator Jinggoy Estrada in exchange for the allocation of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to her bogus non-government organizations.
The prosecution alleges that Estrada received 40 to 60 percent of the PDAF, or roughly around P55.79 million.
Both accused were allowed by the Sandiganbayan to file their demurrers to evidence, but these were also denied by the anti-graft court based on the prosecution’s supposed ability to establish that Napoles and Estrada connived to implement the scheme.
Had the court granted the demurrers, Napoles and Estrada would have been able to seek for the outright dismissal of the cases.
Napoles was convicted in a separate P224-million plunder case involving the same scheme, this one supposedly done with Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla. However, the Special First Division acquitted Revilla and instead convicted his aide lawyer Richard Cambe, after the court found no documentary evidence to prove Revilla’s direct participation in the scam.
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