Sandiganbayan affirms denial of Napoles’ brother’s motion to quash

Published January 17, 2019, 7:14 PM

by Dhel Nazario, Jeffrey G. Damicog, and Rey G. Panaligan

By Czarina Nicole Ong

The Sandiganbayan Third Division has affirmed its decision denying the motion to quash filed by Reynald Lim, the brother of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, seeking to end his case involving the Malampaya fund scam.

He was earlier charged with 97 counts each of graft and malversation through falsification due to his involvement of the diversion of P900 million from the Malampaya fund that was allocated by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) from 2009 to 2010.

Lim earlier tried to convince the Sandiganbayan to junk his charges on the ground that the facts alleged in the Information do not constitute the violations of graft and malversation through falsification, and he cannot be charged as a co-conspirator simply on the basis of his familial ties with Napoles.

Lim asserted that he is not a public officer, and there is no evidence proving that he acted in conspiracy with the other 25 co-accused. He added that he was included as one of those who allegedly forged signatures and fabricated documents, but there isn’t a shred of evidence produced that he did so.

But his motion was dismissed on October 5, 2018. In response, Lim filed a motion for reconsideration on October 24 and stressed that the “lengthy narration” of the Information without alleging the specific facts complained of unjustly deprived his right to know the crimes leveled against him.

He added that the Information failed to specify what signature or document he reportedly forged, as well as the date and place of the commission of the offense.

The Sandiganbayan found his arguments repetitive and reiterated the “pertinent portions” of its earlier resolution, which denied Lim’s motion to quash.

“Besides, the assertion of the accused-movant that there is an absence of proof of conspiracy between him and his co-accused remains a matter of defense and is evidentiary in nature,” the court ruled. “The truth thereof is thus best passed upon after a full-blown trial on the merits.”

“With the forgoing, any additional discussions will be superfluous,” the resolution penned by Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez read. It was concurred by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez.

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.

Aside from Lim and Napoles, former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) chief and current Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. and former DAR Secretary and current Masui City, Lanao del Sur Mayor Nasser Pangandaman are facing charges.

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.

Meanwhile, Pangandaman released the funds he received from the DBM to Napoles’ NGOs even without first checking their validity, and he was accused of receiving kickbacks from the transaction.

On the other hand, Napoles was accused of using her NGOs to implement ghost projects. Her children, brother and former bodyguard reportedly helped her scam by forging signatures and fabricating documents.