Sandiganbayan denies anew Napoles bid to dismiss plunder case
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan has denied again the motion of convicted pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles seeking to dismiss a plunder case filed against her, saying the arguments mentioned were mere “reiterations of things already discussed.”
According to the resolution of Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division dated September 19, Napoles’ claims that the “information” does not charge anyone, and that no main plunderer was named in the case have already been resolved.
“An examination of the present motion to dismiss shows that the matters raised therein are mere reiterations of the issues raised in the motion for reconsideration filed by the same accused, which had been exhaustively discussed in several resolutions issued by this Court,” the document penned by Division chair Associate Justice Rafael Lagos said.
The resolution also noted that the evidence presented by the prosecution is enough, if not rebutted by the defense, to convict the accused.
“This Court maintains its conclusions that the present Information afforded all of the herein accused of their constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of accusation against them and that the prosecution was able to present satisfactory evidence, which if unrebutted can support a judgment of conviction,” Lagos added.
Napoles is accused of providing P55.79 million worth of kickbacks to former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, in exchange of the latter’s move to allocate his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to various bogus non-government organizations owned by Napoles.
She was already convicted in a separate plunder case, this time with Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla. Revilla was acquitted in the case while his aide, lawyer Richard Cambe, was found guilty with Napoles.
The main plunderer issue has been raised by Napoles’ camp several times, insisting that there is a need to name such accused. They are using a dismissed plunder case against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, where Sandiganbayan was ordered to name a main plunderer.
However, Sandiganbayan insisted that in this present resolution, as well in the past, that there is no need to name a supposed main plunderer as it is automatically the public official involved — in this case, Estrada and former aide Pauline Therese Labayen.
Sandiganbayan showed a copy of the case’s information, where Estrada and Labayen were named as the public officials who allegedly conspired with Napoles.
“[…] Above-named accused Jose “Jinggoy” P. Ejercito Estrada, then a Philippine Senator, and Pauline Therese Mary C. Labayen, then Deputy Chief of Staff of Sen. Estrada’s Office, both public officers, committing the offense in relation to their respective offices, conspiring with one another and with Janet Lim Napoles and John Raymund de Asis […]” the information cited by the court said.
“The emphasized portions of the Information above show that such Information alleges that the two public officers in this case are the main plunderers,” the court added.
Such measures were only required in the Arroyo case as all the accused were public officials when the crime was committed, and therefore, would necessitate the need for naming mastermind or masterminds.
“The Arroyo case did not require the identification of the type of conspiracy. The reference to the identification of whether there was a wheel or chain conspiracy was only to properly identify the main plunderer,” the anti-graft court said.
“The Supreme Court noted that even an implied conspiracy may be alleged, as long as the main plunderer is identified and duly proven as such,” they added.
The hearing of the plunder case is expected to resume by October 7, as the court has denied the separate demurrers to evidence filed by Estrada and Napoles in July. /jpv
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