Estrada, Napoles pleas get Sandigan nod

Janet Lim-Napoles

THE Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has allowed former Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and convicted plunderer Janet Lim Napoles to seek the outright junking of the plunder case against them that stemmed from the alleged multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam.

The anti-graft division on March 13 granted the separate motions of Estrada and Napoles for leave to file demurrer to evidence.

Under the legal system, the demurrer to evidence is a legal remedy that seeks to dismiss the grounds set by the prosecution against an accused.

The demurrers of Estrada and Napoles will give the anti-graft division the opportunity to “evaluate whether the prosecution evidence is sufficient enough to warrant the conviction of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.”

The camps of Estrada and Napoles were given 10 days to file their demurrers, while the prosecution has also 10 days to submit its comment.

In his motion, Estrada, a senatorial candidate, said the Ombudsman failed to prove that he allegedly misappropriated his P183-million Priority Development Assistance Fund, or pork barrel, to the fake non-government organizations of Napoles.

Estrada said the prosecution had no evidence that he was the mastermind behind the scheme, nor was there proof he acted in conspiracy with Napoles and his former deputy chief of staff Pauline Labayen.

The prosecution however said Estrada cannot claim there was no main plunderer in the scheme, saying his endorsement of the Napoles-led foundations shows he was part of the misappropriation of public funds.

Napoles for her part said the prosecution has no proof the crime of plunder even exists. She said “the lack of a main plunderer deprived her of the chance to properly defend herself.”