Napoles asks Sandigan to drop plunder raps, cites precedent cases

Janet Lim Napoles. (File photo)
By Benjamin Pulta
MANILA — The defense counsels of alleged “pork barrel queen”, Janet Lim Napoles, urged the Sandiganbayan on Wednesday to order the dismissal of the plunder case filed against her by Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada following the acquittal of Sen Ramon “Bong” Revilla in a similar plunder complaint in connection with the multi-million pork barrel scam.

Napoles’ counsels, led by lawyer Rony Garay, said the absence of a central public official as the main plunderer merits the dismissal of a case.

Like Estrada, Revilla was a central figure in the indictment.

In its 31-page motion, Napoles’ defense counsels pointed out that to sustain a conviction for plunder, an essential element is that there must be a single public officer identified or identifiable as the main plunderer.

“(I)t is respectfully prayed that the assailed Resolution dated June 13, 2019, be reconsidered and set aside, and a new one be issued granting the demurrer to evidence of accused Napoles and dismissing the above-entitled case against her,” Napoles said in her motion.

“All the evidence of the prosecution, still fail to identify the main plunderer, an essential element of the crime of plunder,” Napoles’ lawyers said, adding that “ the courts should persistently insist that accusation is not synonymous with guilt; hence, every circumstance favoring innocence should be fully taken into account,” Napoles argued in her pleading.

Citing precedent cases involving President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Napoles said that while there can be several plunderers, a conviction requires that there is only one ‘main plunderer’ for whose benefit the amassing, accumulation and acquisition of ill-gotten wealth is made.

Upon Arroyo’s acquittal in the plunder case for alleged irregularities in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), the anti-graft court’s First Division had similarly dismissed the charges against the officials.

Citing precedents, Napoles’ counsels argued that while “[i]t is possible for the main plunderer to exist alone without any co-conspirator as stated in the law on Plunder itself, it is never possible for a co-conspirator for Plunder to exist without the main plunderer xxx [a] private person like accused Napoles cannot be indicted nor convicted of the crime of plunder, if the Information failed to name the main plunderer or worse, when the prosecution fails to convict the alleged main plunderer.” (PNA)

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