Court allows Estrada, Napoles to seek dismissal of plunder raps

MANILA The Sandiganbayan has allowed former senator Jose Jinggoy Estrada and convicted plunderer Janet Lim Napoles to file their respective motion to dismiss their plunder case without presenting any counter-evidence.

Napoles is the alleged brains behind the PHP10-billion pork barrel and the PHP900-million Malampaya fund scams.

The anti-graft court's 5th Division, in a resolution dated March 13, 2019, granted the motions for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence filed by Estrada on Feb. 22, 2019 and Napoles on March 4, 2019, respectively.

The court granted the motions of Estrada and Napoles to sufficiently provide them the opportunity to challenge the sufficiency of the prosecution's evidence establishing the material elements of the offense charged to support a judgment of guilt.

They were given a non-extendible period of 10 days from receipt of the resolution within which to file their respective demurrer to evidence, and the prosecution was given the same period from receipt of the demurrer within which to file its comment.

A demurrer to evidence is a motion to question the sufficiency of the pieces of evidence presented by the prosecution against the accused.

In his motion, Estrada argued that the prosecution failed to prove that he is or was the mastermind in the case; and that the prosecution has presented no evidence to prove conspiracy as alleged in the information.

In its comment, the prosecution argued that it was able to prove that Estrada accumulated ill-gotten wealth.

It cited the resolution of the Sandiganbayan dated Jan. 17, 2016, wherein a computation of PHP55.795 million representing the accumulated wealth by Estrada has been established.

It added that Estrada was an active participant in the conspiracy to commit plunder.

Meanwhile, Napoles, in her motion, argued that the prosecution failed to show that the proceeds of the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) were received by any public officer.

She also alleged that in a plunder case, it must be shown that the public officer was principally and ultimately benefitted or enriched and not a private person like her.

In its comment, the prosecution argued that while Estrada was found by the Sandiganbayan to be the apex of the PDAF scam, there is ample evidence pointing to Napoles as an active conspirator in the case. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency