Ex-solon submits facts to evade arrest for plunder over pork barrel scam
MANILA, Philippines—Former Masbate Rep. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete has given the Sandiganbayan information that would spare her from being ordered arrested for plunder over the pork barrel scam.
The incumbent Masbate governor submitted facts and discussion to help the court in its determination of probable cause to find no merit in the plunder case and junk the pending arrest warrant.
She said there was no probable cause to arrest her for plunder.
The former solon said if the allegations on the complaint against her were true, the total tallied alleged kickbacks based on special allotment release orders from 2007 to 2009 only amount to P39.4 million, barely enough for a solon to pilfer at least P50 million kickbacks to constitute the crime of plunder.
Lanete also said there was no proof that she personally received the alleged kickbacks from the scam, saying principal whistle-blower Benhur Luy even failed to show in his ledger that the congresswoman received commissions from the scam.
The former solon was accused of pilfering P108.405 million in kickbacks.
“No witness has alleged, much less proved, that she personally received any such sum. The Ombudsman does not, in fact, indicate the basis for its finding that petitioner ‘personally’ received any sum,” the paper read.
“A case as serious as plunder cannot be left to the guesswork of a witness like Benhur Luy,” it added.
Lanete said her supposed signatures on the PDAF transactions such as endorsement letters, memoranda of agreement, disbursement reports, accomplishment reports, among others, were all forged.
She even included a screenshot of the supposed forged signature and her actual signature to the court.
“The differences in the strokes of the signatures … speak for itself … The signatures found on the endorsement letters and other documents do not belong to Lanete … The sheer number of documents she purportedly signed is already a giveaway that her signatures must have been forged,” the paper read.
Lanete said she hoped her submission of pertinent facts would spare her from being ordered arrested due to determination of probable cause.
“Accused hopes that the foregoing discussion proves useful to the Honorable Court in its determination of the existence of probable cause,” the paper said.
The court’s determination of probable cause precedes the issuance of an arrest warrant against a public official charged for a nonbailable offense like plunder.
Lanete is part of the second batch of PDAF-scam tainted lawmakers facing charges for purportedly pillaging public funds in conspiracy with accused mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Apec party-list Rep. Edgar Valdez also faces plunder for allegedly raking in P57.787 million in kickbacks. Meanwhile, facing malversation raps are former Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza for P42.1 million kickbacks, Benguet Rep. Samuel Dangwa for P26.7 million kickbacks and Cagayan De Oro Rep. Constantino Jaraula for P20.8 million in kickbacks.
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 Camp Bagong Diwa.
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