Sandiganbayan upholds ruling in Napoles plunder case

Published September 26, 2019, 1:05 PM

by Gabriela Baron & Minka Klaudia Tiangco

By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Sandiganbayan has upheld its decision to deny the motion of Janet Lim Napoles to have her plunder charge dismissed.

Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)
Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)

In a resolution dated Sept. 19, the court’s Fifth Division said Napoles’ motion lacked merit.

Napoles is charged together with former Senator Jinggoy Estrada, Estrada’s Deputy Chief of Staff Pauline Therese Mary C. Labayen, and John Raymund de Asis.

They were accused of pocketing P183,793,750 from Estrada’s priority development assistance fund (PDAF) by endorsing Napoles’ non-existent non-government organizations (NGOs) in 2004.

In her motion, Napoles argued that the information filed against her lacked jurisdiction, since it failed to identify Estrada as the main plunderer. Such an identification, according to Napoles, is an “essential element” of the crime charged.

During the hearing last Sept. 9 the prosecution said Napoles’ argument had been resolved by the anti-graft court in previous resolutions.

The court agreed, stating that Napoles’ argument has been “exhaustively discussed” in several resolutions.

In its resolution dated Sept. 2, the court said the information undoubtedly refers to Estrada as the mastermind of the PDAF scheme.

“For failure of the accused to present new matters that would warrant the reversal of the Court’s resolutions, this Court maintains its conclusions that the present Information afforded all of the herein accused of their constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of accusation against them and that the prosecution was able to present satisfactory evidence, which if unrebutted can support a judgment of conviction,” the resolution read.

It was written by Fifth Division Chairperson Rafael Lagos with the concurrence of Associate Justices Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac.