Anti-graft court upholds charges against Napoles children

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The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s Special Third Division has denied with finality an appeal filed by Jo Christine and James Christopher Napoles seeking dismissal of charges leveled against them in connection with the pork barrel scam.

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They are facing graft charges with their mother businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles as co-accused of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.

In an eight-page resolution issued on Friday afternoon, the court affirmed its earlier resolution, denying the appeal for lack of merit.

The two Napoles children are set to be read the charges on November 19, along with seven others charged with graft as co-defendants of Enrile and whose respective motions were denied by the court in rulings issued also on Friday.

“Indeed, a plain reading of the aforesaid documents establish that the crime of violation of Section 3(e) of RA [Republic Act] 3019 has been committed and that the herein accused, including the accused-movants, are probably guilty thereof,” the court maintained.

It was referring to the Ombudsman’s joint resolution, the counter-affidavits of Enrile, Gigi Reyes and John Raymond de Asis, and sworn statements of pork barrel scam witnesses, among others.

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

It said the same of the issues whether they faked documents and signatures that are subject matter of the case, and on whether they conspired with the other accused.

The resolution was penned by Presiding Justice and Third Division Chairperson Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and concurred in by fellow Associate Justices Alex Quiroz, Samuel Martires, Jose Hernandez, and Maria Cristina Cornejo.

In October, Jo Christine and James Christopher’s scheduled arraignment was deferred pending their appeal to the court’s resolution finding probable cause against them on September 29.

A division of five was created to resolve the issue of probable cause against several private individuals, including the Napoles siblings, who are defendants in the graft charges against Enrile.

The court failed to reach a unanimous vote on them when it found probable cause last July, thus the need to designate two other justices of the Sandiganbayan to sit temporarily with the Third Division.

It also issued several separate rulings on Enrile’s co-accused.

In an 11-page resolution, the regular Third Division also denied for utter lack of merit an appeal on admission of amended graft charges filed by Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and employees Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule and Marilou Bare and another filed by Napoles’ nephew Ronald John Lim, who remains at large.

Also denied were former Technology Resource Center (TRC) Director General Antonio Ortiz’s appeal on the denial of his request for the dismissal of his graft case.

Also denied was Myla Ogerio’s request to dismiss the case.

Napoles, according to Marina Sula, told her, not to abandon her when the pork barrel scam broke out.

Sula, the businesswoman’s employee-turned- witness, made the revelation during Friday’s hearing on Napoles’ petition for bail at the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division.

Napoles had sought a temporary restraining order (TRO) before the Court of Appeals (CA) on an arrest warrant issued to her in connection with the illegal detention charge filed by Benhur Luy, another of her former employees.

Napoles, who was present at the courtroom, was seen grinning in her seat as Sula narrated how the businesswoman appealed to her.

Also, Sula said, she was told by the businesswoman that they should meet with Cheryl Jimenea.

Napoles reportedly hired Jimenea as her consultant early last year.
Jimenea was a former appointments secretary of deposed President and now Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada.

Sula said Napoles told them (employees) to shred documents from their office relating to lawmakers’ projects–such as receipts, disbursement vouchers–”so that no evidence would be seen connecting her to the NGOs [non-government organizations] if a search warrant was issued.”
The NGOs allegedly served as conduits for pork barrel funds.

Napoles is named a respondent in the P172-million plunder charge against Enrile before the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division, which is hearing her petition for bail over which Sula testified.

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