By Czarina Nicole Ong
Pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, the co-accused in the Malampaya fund charges of former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) chief and current Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., has filed an urgent motion to quash information before the Sandiganbayan Third Division.
Napoles has been slapped with 97 violations of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and another 97 violations of Article 217 in relation to Article 171(2) and 48 of the Revised Penal Code due to her involvement in the P900-million Malampaya fund scam from 2009 to 2010.
Napoles argued in her motion to quash that the facts charged do not constitute an offense. Since she is not a public officer, and absence of any proof of conspiracy with a public officer, she cannot be held liable for graft.
“This element can only be committed by a public officer charging administrative, judicial or official function. Not being public officers, herein accused could not possibly commit the acts that they are charged with,” the motion read.
As for her malversation through falsification charges, Napoles maintained the same argument. All that is necessary for conviction is proof beyond reasonable doubt that the “accountable officer” received public funds, or the public official did not have the funds in his or her possession when demand was made.
But since she is not, Napoles reasoned that she cannot be held liable for the crime. “In the interest of justice and to uphold the rule of law, it is most respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court that the motion in these cases…against accused Janet Lim Napoles be quashed and that the cases be dismissed,” the motion read.
For its part, the prosecution argued otherwise. They said Napoles’ reasoning was “bereft of merit” since the facts charged “clearly and sufficiently constitute” the violations of the crimes.
So even though Napoles is not a public official, “the said informations explicitly state the participation of the accused-movants in the grand scheme to commit the offenses charged herein,” the opposition read.
“Clearly, the allegation of conspiracy in the instant cases, and the cases averred to support such allegation, satisfy the standard of jurisprudence on the matter,” it added.
The Malampaya fund was allocated by the DBM to the DAR, and it was sourced from the government’s share in royalties and rentals on the oil and gas operations in the Camago-Malampaya reservoir in northern Palawan.
Back in 2009, it was agreed that P900 million from the special fund was to be used to help farmers who were affected by Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. However, the funds were somehow diverted to the fake NGOs headed by Napoles.
These NGOs included Abundant Harvest for People’s Foundation Inc. (AHPFI),
Bukirin Tanglaw Foundation Inc. (BTFI), Dalangpan Sang Amon Utod Kag Kasimanwa Foundation Inc. (DSAUKKFI), Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (GAMF), Gintong Pangkabuhayan Foundation Inc. (GPFI), Kaupdan Para Sa Mangunguma Foundation Inc. (KMFI), Karangayan Para sa Magbubukid Foundation Inc. (KPMFI), Kasaganahan Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (KPSMFI), Micro Agri Business Citizens Initiative Foundation Inc. (MABCF), Masaganang Buhay Foundation Inc. (MBFI), Saganang Buhay sa Atin Foundation Inc. (SBAFI), and Tanglaw Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (TPSMFI).
Andaya reportedly approved the DAR’s fund request and signed the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) and Notice of Cash Allocation requested by Pangandaman even before checking with the DBM’s budget and management bureau.
On the other hand, Napoles was accused of using her NGOs to implement ghost projects. Her children, brother and former bodyguard helped her scam by forging signatures and fabricating documents.