Detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles has lost her bid for the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the graft charges filed against her in connection with the P15-million “pork barrel” funds of a congressman.
This came after the Sandiganbayan’s Second Division dismissed for lack of merit Napoles’ motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence for the graft case involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of then-Nueva Ecija Rep. Aurelio Umali.
A demurrer to evidence is a petition asking the court to decide the case solely on the basis of the evidence presented by the prosecution while challenging such evidence to prove that it is not enough to merit conviction.
The anti-graft court also dismissed similar motions filed by Napoles’ co-accused in graft case number SB-19-CRM-0059, namely Renato Manantan and Narcisa Maningding.
“It is significant to note that grounds raised in the instant motions were mere general allegations that the prosecution’s pieces of evidence are insufficient to prove beyond reasonable doubt the elements of violation of Sec. 3(e) of RA No. 3019 as well as their conspiracy in the commission.
They have not provided any reason or explanation on how they arrived at such a conclusion,” the Sandiganbayan said in a resolution.
“Such general statements run counter to the requirements under Section 23 of Rule 119 of the Rules of Court which instructs that the motion for leave shall specifically state its ground. The court finds the instant motions for leave to file demurrer to evidence untenable,” the anti-graft court added.
The Sandiganbayan also noted: “It must be emphasized that at this point, the Court is not yet passing upon the merits of the case. The incident before us is merely a determination of whether the evidence on record is sufficient to sustain the indictment or support a verdict of guilt and does not lead to a conclusion of the guilt or innocence of the accused.”
Likewise, the court cited Section 23, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which states that “the trial court may dismiss the action on the ground of insufficiency of evidence upon a demurrer to evidence filed by the accused with or without leave of court.”
The mastermind behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam, Napoles was convicted of plunder and sentenced to reclusion perpetua or 20 to 40
years in jail. She is currently detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
“Guided by the foregoing rule and jurisprudence, followed by a conscientious examination of the records and all the evidence presented by the prosecution as against the elements of the crimes charged in the Informations, the Court resolves to deny the motions for leave to file demurrer to evidence separately filed by all the accused,” the Sandiganbayan said.
“Finding sufficient evidence to sustain the indictment for the crimes charged at this point of the trial, all of the accused now bear the evidentiary burden to controvert the evidence of the prosecution which should properly be made during the presentation of accused’s evidence in chief,” it added.