The Sandiganbayan has rescheduled to Oct. 7 the hearing of the plunder case against convicted pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles and former Senator Jinggoy Estrada.
During the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division’s hearing, the court suspended the hearing pending the resolution on the motion for reconsideration filed by both parties.
Last June 14, the court decided to conduct a full trial of the plunder case against Napoles and Estrada after it denied their separate motions for leave of court to file a demurrer to evidence; that, if granted, will result in his acquittal without him having to file counter-evidence to that filed by the Ombudsman in filing the case.
The Sandiganbayan then ruled that the Ombudsman’s evidence was strong enough to warrant the holding of the full trial of the case involving alleged misuse of P183 million of the former senator’s Priority Development Assistance Fund.
In his motion, Estrada said the Ombudsman failed to prove that he allegedly misappropriated his P183-million Priority Development Assistance Fund, or pork barrel, to the fake non-government organizations of Napoles.
He said the prosecution had no evidence that he was the mastermind behind the scheme, nor was there proof he acted in conspiracy with Napoles and his former deputy chief of staff Pauline Labayen.
Ombudsman prosecutors, however, claimed the report of the Anti-Money Laundering Council alone showed Estrada’s receipt of P70.7 million worth of kickbacks.
The prosecutors pointed out that the Sandiganbayan itself found Estrada received P55.8 million.
Estrada, the prosecutors said, “cannot claim there was no main plunderer in the scheme,” saying “his endorsement of the Napoles-led foundations shows he was part of the misappropriation of public funds.”
Napoles, on the other hand, said the prosecution had no proof the crime of plunder even exists.
She said the case filed against her should be dismissed, citing “the lack of a main plunderer deprived her the chance to proper defend herself.”
The court earlier said Napoles could not invoke the dismissal of the P366-million plunder case of former President Gloria Arroyo because all of the accused in that case were public officers.