• ‘Jose Velarde’ balks at P189-M plunder suit

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    THE lawyer of Jaime Dichaves told the Sandiganbayan to drop the plunder case against his client in lieu  of a lower offense.

    According to Pacifico Agabin, counsel to Dichaves and co-accused Yolanda Ricaforte, Dichaves is indicted for receiving a check who in turn deposited the note “to the ‘Jose Velarde’ account.”

    The check amounting to P189.7 million was given to him by Willy Ng Ocier, president of Belle Corp. This claim was attested by Mark Jimenez in his affidavit dated March 6, 2001.

    Claiming that the action hurled against his client is short enough to be an act of plunder, Agabin told the Sandiganbayan Special Division that this allegation against Dichaves “is not a series or a combination of those enumerated under [the Plunder Law].”

    Under Republic Act 7080, for an act to be considered plunder, it should be a combination of acts under Section 1 (d) of the law. However, the defense raised that Dichaves’ act only points to subparagraph 2 of the provision under the Plunder Law.

    “In fact, the Congressional deliberations [are]even more emphatic, that there must be at least two different criminal acts in order for the accused to be charged with plunder,” the motion read.

    With the “singularity” of the act thrown against Dichaves, Agabin said that it does not fall within the ambit of plunder.

    “Without satisfying the minimum parameters under the law, there could be no probable cause on any combination or series acts . . . Clearly, the accused cannot properly be charged with plunder,” the defense raised.

    Agabin said that, assuming the findings of the Office of the Ombudsman are correct, the charge against Dichaves may only be of “lesser offense, like violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.”

    The seasoned lawyer said that, the Sandiganbayan should conduct a hearing to exhaust probable cause and to quash the charge sheet against his client to amend it to show lesser offense.

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