Napoles turns to SC vs Sandiganbayan
MANILA, Philippines—The camp of convicted pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles has filed a petition at the Supreme Court (SC), seeking to stop the Sandiganbayan from trying a plunder case against her involving pork barrel funds of former senator Jinggoy Estrada.
In the petition, Napoles’ lawyer, Rony Garay, accused the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division of gravely abusing its discretion by refusing to dismiss the case against Napoles and her co-accused, Estrada.
Garay insisted that the court had no case to try in the first place because the complaint was void and “does not charge any offense.”
It continued to cite the plunder case against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo which the Supreme Court dismissed because the complaint failed to be specific on who the main plunderer was, a technicality.
Napoles kept questioning the validity of the complaint against her because it did not identify who the main plunderer was just like the complaint in the Arroyo case.
The court, however, was clear about the difference between the two cases. Arroyo’s involved no private individual and all government official so it was necessary to identify who among the officials was the main plunderer. In the Napoles-Estrada case, private individuals were involved and a senator so it would be automatic for the government official, Estrada, to be the main plunderer.
But Napoles argued further that if the main plunderer was Estrada, then why was he granted bail?
The plunder case stemmed from accusations that Napoles gave Estrada kickbacks worth P55.79 million, in exchange for Estrada allocating his pork barrel funds to Napoles’ bogus NGOs.
Garay also insisted that evidence against Napoles was weak and could not prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt even after the court dismissed the accused’s demurrer because evidence was sufficient.
Garay, however, belittled the prosecution evidence for failing to “identify the main plunderer.”
Napoles is currently detained at the Correctional Institute for Women after the Sandiganbayan’s Special First Division convicted her of plunder in December 2018. Her co-accused in that case, Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, was acquitted. /tsb
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