Convicted plunderer Janet Lim Napoles on Monday refused to enter a plea when arraigned on the plunder and other cases in connection with the P900-milion Malampaya fund scam against her, prompting the Sandiganbayan to enter not guilty plea for her.
Napoles, who is currently detained at the Correctional Institution for Women, refused to enter any plea during her arraignment Monday for 97 counts each of graft and malversation of public funds.
However, the court deferred the arraignment of Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations, on the same case. Andaya’s arraignment will instead be held on May 31 at 8:30 a.m.
The court postponed Andaya’s arraigment owing to his appeal on the denial of his motion to dismiss. He argued that the allegations against him are “fatally defective.”
Andaya told the court it was his duty being then the secretary of the Department of Budget and Management to approve the special allotment and release order and the notices of cash allocation.
The Ombudsman opposed Andaya’s plea for the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the graft and malversation charges filed against him in connection with the alleged P900-million Malampaya fund scam.
In a 15-page opposition filed on April 10, Ombudsman prosecutors said Andaya’s motion for reconsideration should be denied as the plea was filed beyond the five-day period reglementary period stated under the Guidelines for Continuous Trial.
Andaya earlier filed a motion to dismiss the cases but the antigraft court denied his plea, thus Andaya filed a motion for reconsideration.
Andaya only filed his motion for reconsideration in late March when the resolution denying his orginal motion to dismiss was promulgated on March 6, the Ombudman said.
Then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order (EO) 848 on October 13, 2009, which authorized the DBM to release the Malampaya Fund to the DAR as implementing agency.
The prosecutors said the Department of Agriculture (DAR) under then Secretary Nasser Pangandaman was supposed to use the P900 million Malampaya Fund to implement “relief operations, rehabilitation and reconstruction” of areas devastated by flooding caused by Tropical Storm Ondoy and Typhoon Pepeng in 2009.
But instead of helping the farmers and stricken communities, the prosecutors said the DAR allegedly funneled the money into 13 private foundations or non-government organizations (NGOs) controlled by Napoles.