Napoles to Sandiganbayan: Require prosecution to reveal stand on main plunderer issue
MANILA, Philippines – Pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles has filed another motion, this time asking the prosecution to clarify its stand on the absence of the main plunderer issue.
In the urgent ex-parte motion submitted by Napoles’ camp to the Fifth Division, they urged the anti-graft court to require the prosecution to submit their Memorandum of Authorities so that the court may be guided on whether their bid to dismiss the cases should really be dropped.
“It is most respectfully submitted that the Memorandum of Authorities herein requested will clarify the position of the prosecution on the matter of the sufficiency of the allegations in the Information and will guide the Honorable Court as to whether or not the demurrer to evidence filed by accused Napoles should be granted,” the motion said.
Napoles has argued in the past that the absence of the main plunderer means that the information filed against her is void, as the Supreme Court stated in 2016 that identifying the main plunderer is essential to sustaining a case.
“Accused Napoles believes that she is being accused under a void Information because at the time of the filing thereof in 2014, the Supreme Court has not yet imposed, by interpreting Republic Act 7080 the identification of a main plunder as one of the essential elements of the crime of plunder,” her counsel explained.
“In was only in 2016 that the Supreme Court in the case of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo vs. People of the Philippines and the Sandiganbayan (First Division) instructed that the identification of a main plunderer in the Information is an essential element of the crime,” they added.
Previously, Sandiganbayan granted Napoles and co-accused former senator Jinggoy Estrada’s separate motions to file demurrers to evidence. Both demurrers were denied, however, as the anti-graft court claimed that the prosecution has established sufficient grounds against the accused.
The plunder case against Napoles stemmed from allegations that she gave around P55.79 million worth of kickbacks to Estrada. This was supposedly in exchange for allocating his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to bogus non-government organizations owned by the Napoles.
After the Sandiganbayan’s resolution, Napoles’ lawyer Rony Garay filed a supplemental motion seeking again the dismissal of the cases, banking on a previous plunder case involving former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, where it was ruled that the main plunderer should be specified.
Aside from those claims, Napoles also noted that the term “main plunderer” refers to just one public official, rather than a public official considered as equal co-conspirators to a supposed plunderous act.
“There is no denying that the main plunderer according to the law and prevailing jurisprudence is a single individual public officer whether he acted by himself or in connivance with other persons,” Napoles’ motion read.
“Consequently, the demurrer to evidence of accused Napoles should, with due respect, have been granted because there is no way that the crime of plunder can be proven here by the prosecution considering that one of the essential elements of the crime which is identifying the main plunderer, has not been alleged in the Information,” they added.
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