By Rey Panaligan
The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld a ruling of the Office of the Ombudsman that indicted for plunder and graft a staff member of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the multi-billion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
In a resolution, the SC dismissed the petition filed by Robert John Lim as it affirmed the Ombudsman’s ruling issued in 2014.
The SC ruled that Lim “miserably failed to show” that the Ombudsman gravely abused its discretion in finding probable cause against him.
It said that Lim’s arguments had been resolved in an earlier decision that affirmed the filing of criminal cases against Richard Cambe, then chief of staff of former Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
“We are inclined to do no less in the present case. We recognize that the acts in Cambe, which related to the illegal pillaging of public funds sourced from the PDAF of then Senator Ramon Revilla, Jr., occurred within the same timeline as the acts in the present case,” the SC said.
In the Cambe decision, the SC held that “as correctly pointed out by the Ombudsman,” whistleblowers Benhur Luy and Merlina Suñas had narrated that Lim was among the staff of Napoles who would prepare and deliver the kickbacks intended for Senator Revilla.
It pointed out that Lim’s failure to file a counter-affidavit before the Ombudsman was a waiver of his right. Thus, it said, the allegations against Lim remained uncontroverted.
In another resolution, the SC upheld the conviction for estafa of the descendant of the late former President Emilio Aguinaldo.
Emilio J. Aguinaldo IV was convicted of estafa by the Makati City regional trial court (RTC) in 2013 for violation of Article 215 (2a) of the Revised Penal Code.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) deleted the awards for actual damages and interests after it found that complainant ACROL Holdings, Inc. had filed a manifestation that it received the judgment award of P2,050,000 from Aguinaldo IV.
A summary of the resolution issued by the SC’s public information office (PIO) stated that “like the RTC and the CA, the Court found petitioner to have misrepresented and falsely represented to ACROL that he has lawful authority or power to sell the subject property in the name of the estate of Emilio Aguinaldo and Maria Agoncillo under the Transfer and Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-15632.”
The summary stated that Aguinaldo IV “presented several Special Powers of Attorney (SPAs) allegedly executed by his co-heirs and pretended to possess the authentic and genuine TCT No. T-15632. Such false pretenses or fraudulent misrepresentations induced ACROL to part with its money. As a result, ACROL suffered damages because the purported sale did not materialize and the amounts of money it paid were never recovered.”