Jinggoy’s conspiracy with Napoles wasn’t established, Sandiganbayan says | Inquirer News

Jinggoy’s conspiracy with Napoles wasn’t established, Sandiganbayan says

/ 09:02 PM January 19, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — One of the reasons why Senator Jinggoy Estrada was acquitted of plunder is that allegations of his conspiring with pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles were not established beyond reasonable doubt.

In its decision on the plunder case against Estrada and Napoles, Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division explained that the prosecution’s evidence showed conspiracy happened more between Napoles and Estrada’s chief-of-staff Pauline Labayen.

Labayen, who is still at large, is Estrada and Napoles’ co-accused in the case.


“As this Court sees it, the conspiracy between Napoles and Senator Estrada has not been established beyond reasonable doubt.  Rather, the veritable co-conspirators in this case are Napoles and Pauline Labayen,” the court stated.


According to the anti-graft court, one of Napoles’ former employees Marina Sula, who testified against her, even became close friends with Labayen in the process.

“With the additional pieces of evidence adduced by the prosecution, it became clearer that Labayen actively partook in the grandiose scheme initiated and implemented by Napoles.  Prosecution witness Sula even had a close relationship with Labayen who frequented the office of JLN Corporation,” the court noted.

It was also established in the cross-examination of Sula that money believed to be given to Estrada as kickbacks for allocating part of his priority development assistance fund (PDAF) was being handed over to Labayen and not Estrada himself.

Sandiganbayan noted that when the prosecution asked what was Sula’s basis in claiming that Estrada received kickbacks, she said she saw Labayen and Benhur Luy counting money.

Sula added that when she joked with Labayen about treating them to snacks with the money, Labayen would always reply with “Sorry, kay sir ito (Sorry, this is for sir).”

“As the evidence proves, the public officer who primarily benefitted from the PDAF of Senator Estrada is no other than Labayen. Capitalizing on her connection with Senator Estrada, she would casually drop his name whenever she would transact with Napoles,” Sandiganbayan noted.


“Prosecution witness Ruby Tuason previously testified that Senator Estrada already declined Napoles’ offer regarding his PDAF allocation.  But then, Labayen was able to find her way into the web of scheme plotted by Napoles,” it added.

While Sandiganbayan acquitted Estrada and Napoles of plunder, the senator was still found guilty of one count of direct bribery and two counts of indirect bribery, sentencing him to a jail term of eight years as a minimum and up to nine years and four months for direct bribery, and two to three years for each count of indirect bribery.

Estrada, who was present during the case promulgation earlier, was also penalized with a special temporary disqualification from holding public office and absolute disqualification from the right of suffrage.

Napoles meanwhile was convicted for five counts of corrupting a public official, and another two counts for the same case.

This plunder case against Estrada, Napoles, and others stemmed from transferring Estrada’s PDAF or pork barrel to bogus non-government organizations owned by Napoles.

The prosecution accused Estrada of accumulating ill-gotten wealth after he allegedly gained P55.79 million from the shady scheme, aside from being “an active participant in the conspiracy to commit plunder.”

Estrada is one of three senators charged with plunder concerning the pork barrel scam. The two others were incumbent Senator Bong Revilla, who was acquitted in December 2018, and former Senate president and current Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile, who is out on bail in consideration of his advanced age.

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Estrada, Revilla, and Enrile ran for the Senate in the 2019 midterm elections, but only Revilla won. Estrada again sought a Senate seat in the 2022 polls and succeeded.

TAGS: Janet Lim Napoles, Jinggoy Estrada, pork barrel scam

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