Former solon Plaza asks Sandigan to junk PDAF scam charges against him
MANILA, Philippines — Former Agusan Del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza has asked the Sandiganbayan to junk the corruption charges against him, or at least reduce his bail for temporary liberty as he faces malversation raps over the pork barrel scam.
In an omnibus motion, Plaza asked the court to dismiss charges of malversation, graft and direct bribery filed against him, and if not, reduce his bail from P390,000 to P90,000.
Plaza asked the court for a judicial determination of probable cause to dismiss the corruption charges for being based on mere hearsay.
The motion said the prosecutors relied heavily on the hearsay testimony of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy.
In his testimony, Luy has said that he met Plaza in Janet Lim-Napoles’ parties and heard Napoles talk to Plaza over the phone. Luy also said Plaza was included in his records as receiving millions of kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) projects.
“It is clear that such allegation against Plaza for conspiracy is hearsay… It does not prove that Plaza, being seen on parties or office of Napoles, was involved in the alleged scheme narrated by Luy,” the omnibus motion read.
The motion also said that Luy failed to show evidence that Plaza received kickbacks from the scam.
“The statement of Luy is a mere self-serving statement purposed only to indict Plaza. There is no proof or evidence shown by the complainant that respondent actually received and used the public funds,” it said.
The motion also said Plaza’s endorsement of the alleged ghost PDAF projects does not mean he was involved in the anomaly.
“No conspiracy can be attached to Plaza … when he just performed a lawful and regular endorsement by any member of Congress,” it said.
Plaza also asked the court for an alternative to reduce his bail bond from his multiple charges.
The former solon faces five counts of malversation, five counts of graft and two counts of direct bribery. The bail per count of malversation is set at P40,000, bail per graft count at P30,000, and bail per bribery count at P20,000.
This means Plaza should pay P390,000 bail for temporary liberty from all his charges. Plaza has asked the court to set the bail for all his counts of malversation at P40,000, all his graft counts at P30,000, and all his bribery counts at P20,000, for a total of P90,000 bail only.
“That accused need not be burdened for the whole amount of bail considering that his appearance in one case is the appearance in all other counts of each charge every trial. Hence, by allowing the accused to post one bail bond for all similar counts will serve the purpose of the right to bail of the accused,” the motion read.
Plaza is accused of receiving P42.1 million in kickbacks from his PDAF projects from 2004 to 2010 under the scheme of Napoles, with payoffs taking place in Napoles’ house in Alabang Hills or at Napoles’ office in Ortigas.
Plaza is part of the second batch of PDAF-scam tainted lawmakers facing charges for purportedly pillaging public funds in conspiracy with Napoles. Former Masbate Rep. Rizalina Seachon-Lañete and APEC party-list Rep. Edgar Valdez faces plunder for allegedly raking in P108.405 milion and P57.787 million in kickbacks, respectively. Meanwhile, facing malversation raps are former Benguet Rep. Samuel Dangwa and Cagayan De Oro Rep. Constantino Jaraula.
The antigraft court is also hearing the plunder cases of detained senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile. Accused mastermind Napoles facing multiple charges of plunder and graft is detained at the Camp Bagong Diwa.
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