By Czarina Ong Ki
With new lawyers in tow, Janet Lim Napoles made a plea once again before the Sandiganbayan to grant her demurrer to evidence and dismiss her plunder charge for insufficiency of evidence.
Napoles has prepared her supplemental motion for reconsideration to the denial of her demurrer to evidence, but the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division has yet to grant or deny her permission to file it.
A demurrer to evidence is an act made by the defense arguing that the prosecution’s evidence is weak or insufficient to reach a conviction. Earlier this June, the Sandiganbayan ruled that the prosecution’s evidence is sufficient enough to find Napoles and her co-accused, former Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, guilty of plunder.
Aside from Estrada, his Deputy Chief of Staff Pauline Therese Mary C. Labayen and John Raymund de Asis were likewise charged with plunder for allegedly pocketed P183,793,750 from Estrada’s priority development assistance fund (PDAF) by endorsing Napoles’ fake non-government organizations (NGOs) back in 2004.
Napoles’ motion stressed that the charge against her is flawed, because the crime of plunder requires a public officer to be a main plunderer. The motion stated that it is possible for the main plunderer to exist alone, but it is not possible for a co-conspirator for plunder to exist without a main plunderer.
“The reason is simple, the liability of accused Napoles for the crime of plunder is hinged on the liability of the alleged main plunderer by reason of the alleged conspiracy,” the motion stated.
In denying their demurrers to evidence, the anti-graft court said Estrada is being charged as the main plunderer. Napoles argued that the statement “lacks factual basis as there is no such allegation in the Information.”
“Rather, it is merely a conclusion grounded on the prosecution’s claim that accused Estrada has control over his PDAF,” it added.
At the same time, Napoles argued that there is no evidence proving that Estrada received commissions or kickbacks from her. She said direct proof of receipt by the main plunderer of the bribe is essential in the crime of plunder.