Napoles has urged the Sandiganbayan to reconsider its ruling convicting her of plunder over the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds of former senator Ramon Revilla Jr.
Boy Santos
Sandiganbayan orders Janet Napoles’ transfer to Correctional
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - December 29, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has ordered the transfer of convicted pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles from Camp Bagong Diwa to the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City.

Napoles has urged the Sandiganbayan to reconsider its ruling convicting her of plunder over the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds of former senator Ramon Revilla Jr.

In a minute resolution issued on Dec. 19, the anti-graft court said Napoles failed to substantiate her claim in her motion that her transfer to the CIW, a national penitentiary under the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), would put her life and security at risk.

Napoles on Thursday filed a 20-page motion urging the Sandiganbayan’s First Division to reconsider its decision convicting her of plunder while Revilla, her co-accused, was acquitted of the same offense.

On Dec. 7, the Sandiganbayan found Napoles and Richard Cambe guilty of plunder stemming from misuse of about P517 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Revilla.

Revilla, on the other hand, was acquitted of the same offense.

“The criminal liability of Cambe and Napoles is anchored on Revilla’s criminal liability as the alleged main plunderer,” Napoles’ appeal read.

“With the acquittal of Revilla, there is no main plunderer, hence, there is no plunder. Therefore, as a necessary consequence, his co-accused Cambe and Napoles, must also be acquitted.”

Cambe, the former senator’s aide, and Napoles were sentenced to reclusion perpetua or a minimum of 20 years to a maximum 40 years in prison.

The court said “not a single evidence” was presented by the prosecution to prove that Revilla received rebates, commissions or kickbacks for the allocation of his PDAF to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) owned by Napoles.

While the prosecution was able to prove that Cambe’s transactions with the Napoles-linked NGOs were “sham,” it was not proven that Revilla had knowledge or had given his authority for such transactions. 

The court said it was also not proven that the kickbacks or commissions supposedly received by Cambe from Napoles’ then right-hand man Benhur Luy reached Revilla.

In her appeal, however, Napoles said the prosecution failed to establish the key element of plunder – that the main plunderer, who must be a public official, amassed ill-gotten wealth of at least P50 million.

Napoles said Cambe cannot be the main plunderer in the case as the prosecution failed to prove that he amassed ill-gotten wealth of at least P50 million.

“While the prosecution tried but failed to convince the Court that the alleged kickbacks ended up in the bank account of accused Revilla, it miserably failed to show beyond reasonable doubt that the alleged amounts were instead deposited in the bank accounts of Cambe,” Napoles said.

Napoles said even if taken as “gospel truth” that Cambe received commissions amounting to P13,935,000 as recorded in Luy’s daily records or “ledger,” such amount was still way below the P50-million threshold for a crime to be considered plunder.

Napoles said she could not be the main plunderer in the case as she is a private individual. Citing Section 2 of Republic Act 7080 or the Plunder Law, Napoles said a private individual can only be held liable of plunder if it was proven that he or she, as a public officer, conspired with the main plunderer in amassing at least P50 million in ill-gotten wealth.

Lastly, Napoles said the court should not have given credence to the testimonies of Luy and other whistle-blowers in the PDAF scam.

“Benhur Luy and the other prosecution witnesses are not credible to establish (accused’s) guilt beyond reasonable doubt. In fact, the admission of the other witnesses that they were coached by the prosecution to corroborate the untruthful statements of Benhur Luy should render their testimonies of doubtful veracity,” Napoles said.

Meanwhile, in a Notice of Appeal filed on Thursday, Cambe informed the First Division that he will be appealing his conviction before the Supreme Court “for being contrary to law and the evidence on record.”

Cambe also informed the court that lawyer Manuel Joseph Bretaña III will be representing him in the case from now on. Cambe, a lawyer, used to represent himself in his plunder case.

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