Napoles children refuse to enter plea
Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - November 20, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The children of alleged pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim-Napoles yesterday refused to enter a plea on multiple graft charges, prompting the Sandiganbayan to enter a not guilty plea for them.

Jo Christine and James Christopher Napoles were arraigned and will face trial for their alleged involvement in the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of senators and congressmen.

They faced the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division yesterday after their motion for reconsideration of a decision finding sufficient basis to indict them was denied last week.

Jo Christine and James Christopher are accused of conniving with their mother, who is on trial for plunder along with senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada.

On advice of their lawyers, they did not enter any plea after the charges were read in court.

Defense lawyer Stephen David said their move was due to a pending petition for certiorari filed before the Supreme Court questioning the indictment of the siblings.

“We do not want to dignify this harassment. They have nothing to do with these cases. They took no part in it,” David told The STAR.

He said the pre-trial of the graft cases is scheduled in March 2015 and they are hoping that the high court will rule in their favor.

Napoles’ children tried to have the 15 graft cases filed against them junked, claiming that the accusations against them came from polluted sources like whistle-blower Benhur Luy, who admitted participation in the scam.

But the Sandiganbayan rejected their arguments, saying it is too early to discuss the credibility of the whistle-blowers.

“The issue as to whether these witnesses are telling the truth is best ventilated during the trial of the case,” the anti-graft court said.

Jo Christine and James Christopher are out on bail while their mother is detained at the Taguig City Jail in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig.


Nabcor scam

Whistle-blowers in the P5-billion National Agribusiness Corp. fund anomaly yesterday said they have submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) evidence supporting their allegations against acting Health Secretary Janette Garin and other former Nabcor officials.

Levi Baligod, lawyer of former Nabcor officials Rhodora Mendoza and Victor Cacal, said the two whistle-blowers submitted their statements and documents last March.

“I don’t believe there is any lack of documents or evidence. We submitted strong evidence along with the complaint,” Baligod said.

He made the clarification after Secretary Leila de Lima said the probe against Garin, former lawmakers and Nabcor officials tagged in the alleged anomaly has been stalled due to incomplete documents of witnesses.

De Lima said the investigation did not move because Mendoza’s and Cacal’s affidavits were not duly subscribed, and they failed to submit additional documents asked by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Baligod denied this.

“Even the ledger containing the bank accounts where the commissions were deposited was attached to the complaint,” he said.

De Lima also announced last week that the probe has been pending with the NBI’s special task force, the same team that investigated the PDAF scam allegedly perpetrated by Napoles.

But Baligod told another story.

“What we knew was that after two months from the filing of the complaint, the DOJ transmitted our complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman without any investigation. We were told it was the ombudsman that would conduct the factual investigation,” Baligod said.

He gave assurance that they would cooperate with the NBI once the probe proceeds.

“We’ve been waiting for several months for any investigation since we had filed the complaint last March,” he said.

Baligod is also the lawyer of some PDAF scam whistle-blowers, including Merlina Suñas. Last March, principal witness Benhur Luy dropped him as lawyer reportedly due to his “other advocacies.” – With Edu Punay

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