Graft court: Jinggoy Estrada main plunderer in PDAF scam
The Sandiganbayan fifth division has told the camp of convicted plunderer Janet Lim-Napoles that it was unnecessary to compel the court or the prosecution to identify the main plunderer in the case against her and former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.
Both Napoles and Estrada face plunder and graft charges in connection with their alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam that defrauded the government of P183.79 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
The scheme had public officials diverting their pork barrel funds to Napoles’ nongovernment organizations in exchange for kickbacks.
In a resolution, the antigraft court said it was obvious that Estrada was the main plunderer, as he was the government official involved in the case.
“It is apparent that the information refers to Estrada as the mastermind of the PDAF scheme or the main plunderer. The main plunderer is a public officer,” stated the resolution dated Sept. 3.
In her earlier demurrer to evidence, Napoles cited the plunder case against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, which was dismissed since Arroyo was not the identified as the main plunderer.
But the antigraft court resolution said otherwise.
“In the present information, only two accused are public (officials), Estrada and (his chief of staff Pauline Therese Mary) Labayen. In the Arroyo case, it is hard to determine who the main plunderer is considering that there is an enumeration of the names of all the accused who are all public officials who occupy positions with authority, connections and influence, which is not the case in the present information,” the resolution read.
The Sandiganbayan resolution was in response to an urgent ex-parte motion filed by Napoles.
Napoles has argued that she was being tried under an invalid information since an information should allege whether the public officer is the main plunderer who acted by himself, or whether the public officer who is the main plunderer had acted in connivance with his family, business associates, subordinate or other persons.
Napoles was earlier convicted for plunder in connection with another PDAF case that also involved Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr.
Revilla was acquitted but his aide, Richard Cambe, was convicted of plunder.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.