While Enrile runs free, Napoles denied bail over ‘pork’ scam
After more than a year of hearings, the Sandiganbayan has denied the bail petition of Janet Lim-Napoles, the accused mastermind of the alleged pork barrel scam.
In a resolution promulgated October 2015 released Friday, the antigraft court’s Third Division hearing Napoles’ plunder case with Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile unanimously denied the petition for lack of merit.
While the other two justices – Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez – found conspiracy among Napoles, Enrile, and his chief of staff Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes as strong evidence of guilt, Associate Justice Samuel Martires issued a different opinion in denying Napoles’ bail.
The court said the prosecution witnesses were able to establish Napoles’ “unseen hand” in the scheme of forming bogus foundations to implement ghost projects for kickbacks.
It said Napoles’ signature may not appear in the pertinent documents, but witnesses have testified on Napoles’ control on these foundations which received the lawmakers’ pork barrel funds only to have it converted to kickbacks.
“Unquestionably, the prosecution was able to expose by clear and convincing evidence accused Napoles’ unseen hands in this so-called pork barrel scam. Accused Napoles did not only exert moral ascendancy over her employees in engaging in this scam; she likewise actively participated, and actually materially benefitted, in the misuse of public funds,” the court said.
The court said based on the evidence presented, Enrile’s PDAF “were diverted to the personal accounts of accused Napoles,”
“The office of Senator Enrile, through (Deputy Chief of Staff Jose Antonio) Evangelista, signed accomplishment reports, reports of disbursements, inspection and acceptance reports to make it appear that the projects funded by the PDAF of the said legislator were legitimately accomplished, although in truth, and in fact, they were an utter sham,” the court added.
In his seven-page concurring opinion, Martires said the prosecution has yet to establish conspiracy but Napoles must still be denied bail because she is a flight risk.
Martires cited Napoles’ flight for 14 days when she was facing a serious illegal detention case filed by principal whistleblower Benhur Luy. Napoles surrendered to President Aquino at the height of the manhunt on her.
“It is of public knowledge that the accused Napoles took flight for 14 days when the Makati Regional Trial Court issued a warrant for her arrest on the Serious Illegal Detention case filed by Benhur Luy…she was hunted by combined government forces and agencies with a bounty of P10 million. It was only on Aug. 28, 2013 that she surfaced and surrendered to President Aquino,” Martires said.
While Napoles had been denied bail, her principal accused Enrile, 91, was granted temporary freedom by the Supreme Court on humanitarian grounds.
Napoles and her co-accused Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. had been denied bail by the First Division hearing their plunder case last December 2014. The bail petition of Napoles and another accused Sen. Jinggoy Estrada is pending in the Fifth Division.
Napoles had filed her bail petition from plunder in Enrile’s case in July 2014.
Napoles was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Makati Regional Trial Court in connection with the serious illegal detention of Benhur Luy, the principal whistleblower who exposed Napoles’ alleged dealings with lawmakers to implement pork barrel ghost projects for kickbacks. Luy was Napoles’ entrusted finance officer.
Napoles is a co-accused in all the plunder, malversation and graft cases involving three senators and former representatives. AU