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Janet Napoles to serve a lifetime in jail over PDAF scam

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, December 7th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Janet Lim Napoles

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan has sentenced ‘pork barrel’ scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles and Richard Cambe a lifetime in jail as the anti-graft court on Friday (December 7) acquitted Cambe’s former boss, former senator Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr.

Napoles and Cambe were sentenced to ‘reclusion perpetua’ or 40 years imprisonment.

Based on the decision of the Sandiganbayan Special Fifth Division, the prosecution failed to prove that Revilla was guilty of amassing P224.5M from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to support Napoles’ fake foundations.

The court also ruled that it was Cambe who was guilty of misusing the funds.

The Sandiganbayan also ordered Napoles, Cambe and Revilla to return P124 million in line with the case.

With the conviction, Napoles will remain inside the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong while Cambe, who was previously detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center, will be transferred to the New Bilibid Prison.

On June 2014, the Office of the Ombudsman filed plunder cases before the Sandiganbayan against Revilla and his colleagues, former senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada. Napoles and Cambe were among the co-accused.

Enrile, then 92-years-old, was allowed bail due to old age, while the court said evidence failed to establish that Estrada was the main plunderer in the case.

The case is dubbed as the biggest corruption case decided by the Sandiganbayan to date. – Marje Pelayo | UNTV News & Rescue

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Sandiganbayan sides with Enrile on pork barrel case

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

The Sandiganbayan has ordered the Office of the Ombudsman to produce the evidence against former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile on the P172.8 million plunder case against him.

This is in response to the petition filed by the camp of former lawmaker before the Sandiganbayan Third Division to order the Ombudsman “to produce and permit the copying or photographing of any and all documents” as specified in the bill of particulars.

They argued that they need time “to study and consider the materials before trial is held.”

In its 6-page resolution issued on April 24, the graft court granted Enrile’s motion.

The Sandiganbayan said, “Enrile has absolute control on how to go about his defense. If in his mind, he needed to inspect or copy pieces of evidence [not privileged] which are material for him to make an intelligent defense, then he is allowed by the court to ask for the inspection or production of these documents.”

The court cited Section 10, Rule 116 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which allows the former Senate president to avail this remedy, considering the prosecution made use of government resources to prepare its case.

Therefore, on the argument that the request is equivalent to premature presentation of evidence, the court said “Ombudsman prosecutors were wrong to call Enrile’s motion premature.

The Sandiganbayan, however, said the scope of the evidence that Enrile may access is only limited to documents related to the itemized charges against him.

Enrile is accused of pocketing some P172.8 million of his pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) by channeling the money to the fake nongovernment organizations of convicted plunderer Janet Lim Napoles.

He was initially detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City but was later released by the court on humanitarian grounds considering that he is already 95 years old.

Associate Justice Ronald Moreno wrote the resolution, with the concurrence of Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez.  –Maris Federez

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Andaya hits Sotto’s ‘strong reservations’ in signing of proposed 2019 budget

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, April 5th, 2019

(L-R) House Appropriations Committee Chairperson Rolando Andaya, Jr. and Senate President Vicente Sotto III

MANILA, Philippines – House Appropriations Committee Chairperson Rolando Andaya, Jr. on Thursday slammed Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s “strong reservations” in the signing of the enrolled copy of the proposed 2019 national budget.

Sotto had expressed “strong reservations” when he signed the bill for the 2019 national budget on March 26, maintaining that the P75-billion worth of projects under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)
local infrastructure program funded through the “internal realignments” were “unconstitutional.” He also expressed hope that President Rodrigo Duterte will consider his request to veto the questionable provisions in the bill, specifically the alleged pork barrel insertions.

In a statement accompanying the letter he sent to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and acting Budget Chief Janet Abuel, Andaya asked Malacañang and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to assail Sotto’s conditional signing of the bill.

Andaya said Sotto’s “unwarranted” move was ill-advised by his lawyer and that there is no such thing as “conditional signing of an enrolled bill.”

“The Senate cannot clothe his signature to the 2019 General Appropriations Bills with ambivalence or dissent,” he said

“The letter he sent to the President expressing his “strong reservations” as annotation in the 2016 National Budget enrolled bill has no legal basis. It is just a personal request, which the President may or may not take heed,” he said.

Andaya also stressed that signing an enrolled copy of the national budget is a legal act so “the imprimatur of the Senate President on the enrolled bill cannot be diminished by his ‘strong reservations,’ which are completely unwarranted.”

Andaya also insisted that the realignments were not made post-ratification as these had been authorized by the bicameral conference committee report. He also emphasized that the realignments “did not exceed” the approved expenditure ceilings of respective departments and agencies.

“For one, the realignments he cited were adjustments authorized by no less than the Bicameral Conference Committee, which was approved and signed by the conferees from both chamber,” Andaya said.

The lawmaker also noted that “the generic term ‘adjustments’ subsumes realignments and allied modifications.”

Andaya also pointed out that the Omnibus Motion had been included in the previous bicameral reports for institutionalized realignments pursuant to the ratified bicameral report.

“We also maintain that the realignments which the Senate also made, are fully constitutional as part of the budgetary process, and there is no constitutional provision which has been violated, as none was cited by the Senate President,” he said.

But Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has a different interpretation on the issue, stressing that inserting realignments after the budget has been ratified is a different matter.

“It can’t be interpreted that suddenly you insert and realign items in the budget, no,” Drilon said.

He also supports Sotto’s move to express reservations on the 2019 budget bill due to questionable provisions.

“The President has no choice but to veto, because the Senate President said that portion of the bill was not validly passed,” he said.

Sotto, meanwhile, said the budget approval is now up to President Duterte.

“At the end of the day, the Senate exercised its power to scrutinize and challenge what is spurious in the budget. It also proves that the Senate is still and will remain independent. The Senate will let the President decide on the submitted budget,” Sotto said in a statement on Wednesday.

READ: SGMA confident Duterte will sign 2019 budget soon

House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for her part, expressed confidence that the 2019 budget will be signed soon when Duterte has completed the line-item vetoes.

Malacañang earlier assured that they will thoroughly review the bill prior to Duterte’s signing. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

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Sandiganbayan allows Estrada, Napoles to seek plunder case dismissal

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

(L-R) Former Senator Jinggoy Estrada and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles

The Sandiganbayan has allowed senatorial candidate Jinggoy Estrada and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles to file for the dismissal of the plunder charge against them.

The 5th division of the Sandiganbayan has given both parties 10 days to file their demurrer of evidence. The prosecution will also be given 10 days to respond.

The resolution states: “After a meticulous examination of the totality of evidence presented by the prosecution, both testimonial and documentary, the Court resolves to grant the present motion of the accused, to sufficiently provide him an opportunity to challenge the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence establishing material elements o the offense charged to support a judgment of guilt.”

Estrada and Napoles are facing plunder and graft charges following their involvement in the ‘pork barrel scam’. Estrada is accused of amassing P180 million kickback from the Priority Development Assistance Fund of bogus non-government organizations which is reportedly linked to Napoles.

READ: Janet Napoles to serve a lifetime in jail over PDAF scam

Estrada denies his involvement with the ‘pork barrel scam’ and connection with Napoles. Meanwhile, Napoles is already convicted in a separate plunder case in December last year.—Aileen Cerrudo

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