Court junks Napoles’ bid to be acquitted of plunder in PDAF scam
MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has denied a motion from convicted pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles asking that she be acquitted of plunder in connection with a case involving a former Apec party-list Rep. Edgar Valdez.
In a resolution dated July 4, Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division denied the Napoles’ motion asking it to admit and take judicial notice of certain parts of whistleblower Benhur Luy’s testimonies in another Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) case, this time involving Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.
Several lawmakers had been accused of benefiting in the so-called pork barrel scam, in which Napoles supposedly conspired with officials to divert their funds to her nongovernment organizations.
The testimonies of Luy that Napoles was asking to be used in the case against Valez had been used in the case against Estrada — namely.
• that the amount given to Valdez as kickbacks did not come from Napoles’ alleged nongovernment organizations (NGOs) — Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (Mamfi), Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. (PSDFI), and Social Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (SDPFFI)
• that the kickbacks, commissions, or rebates given to Valdez did not come from the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) or Valdez’s PDAF
• that he [Luy] does not have the original copies, photocopies, or screenshots of the alleged JLN vouchers
• that he has no documentary proof that Napoles owns the three NGOs
• that he allegedly has no evidence that the PDAF or SARO went to Napoles’ personal accounts or JLN Corp.’s accounts.
Inserted in this motion is a prayer to acquit Napoles of plunder, the Sandiganbayan said, supposedly due to the prosecution’s failure to prove her guilt.
“Napoles prayed that the memorandum be admitted in the interest of justice. More so, she prayed for her acquittal from the crime of plunder for the failure to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt, and that the civil aspect thereof be dismissed,” the Fifth Division said.
However, the anti-graft court denied the motion since the parties were given 30 days from the notice of the Minute Resolution to file their respective memoranda.
Since the Minute Resolution was issued last Jan. 16 — and was delivered physically by Jan. 20 — the latest date that the defense and the prosecution should have filed their motion was on Feb. 19. Napoles’ lawyers, however, submitted her motion on March 31.
“All the parties were given the opportunity to be heard and to submit their evidence,” the Fifth Division said in the resolution, penned by Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega. “Lamentably, Napoles failed to justify the belated filing of her memorandum.”
The Sandiganbayan sided with the prosecution, which said that the submission of a memorandum is not required. The court assured Napoles, however, that their right to due process would not be violated as the case would still be decided based on its merits.
Napoles and Valdez were accused of conspiring to siphon government funds to Napoles’ fake NGOs, which were created to make it appear that agricultural projects were being sponsored by a government official’s PDAF.
However, investigators found out that projects were non-existent, and that signatures were either forged by Napoles’ accomplices — including her former right-hand man, Luy.