Suspected pork barrel fund architect Janet Lim Napoles has asked the Supreme Court to enjoin the proceedings before the Sandiganbayan, in connection with the plunder case filed against her along with former Senator Jose Ejercito “Jinggoy” Estrada Jr. and several others.
In a 100-page petition filed by her lawyers, Napoles sought to overturn the anti-graft court’s decision issued last June 13. which denied her motion for demurrer to evidence and the resolution dated Sept. 9, denying her motion for reconsideration.
Napoles also pleaded with the SC to set aside the Sandiganbayan’s resolution issued on Sept. 19, denying her motion to dismiss the plunder case on the ground of lack of jurisdiction since the information in the case charges no offense.
A demurrer to evidence refers to a motion to dismiss filed by the defendant after the plaintiff had rested his/her case, on the ground of insufficiency of evidence.
The accused-petitioner stressed that the said resolutions were issued by the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division with grave abuse of discretion, thus, should be immediately enjoined through the issuance of a temporary restraining order.
Napoles argued that the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it denied her motion to dismiss the case through a demurrer to evidence on the ground of insufficiency of evidence considering that the failure of the prosecution to prove receipt and personal benefit by Estrada, the supposed main plunderer, which is an essential element of the crime of plunder.
She also lamented that the associate justice of the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division also committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when they refused to dismiss the plunder case on the ground of lack of jurisdiction since the information does not charge any offense in view of the failure of the Ombudsman in 2014 to identify the main plunderer in the information as required by the 2016 Supreme Court en banc decision in the plunder case of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In the said ruling, the Court declared that the identification of the main plunderer in the information is an indispensable part of one of the essential elements of the crime of plunder.
“The supposed dismissal of criminal case against accused Estrada as the supposed main plunderer will necessarily result in the dismissal of the case against herein petitioner who is merely charged as a co-conspirator of the former,” the movant said.
In a Per Curiam Resolution dated June 13, 2019 denying the Demurrers to Evidence filed by accused Estrada and Napoles, the said Sandigan refused to apply the GMA ruling and stated that “ the requisite of ascertaining the main plunderer is a departure from how conspiracy is treated under the law, not to mention an impediment, if not an escalation of the present burden of the People for a successful prosecution of public officers”.
The argued that the graft court position is a clear case of grave abuse of discretion on its part.
“With due respect, the afore-quoted Per Curiam 1st assailed Resolution of the public respondents-justices is a clear display of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction because the Honorable Supreme Court is the only final arbiter of all legal questions/issues,” the motion read.
She said the vague wording of the indictment itself renders the Information void for which reason the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction to hear the case .
“Clearly from the foregoing, the prosecution miserably failed to discharge its burden as nothing in its additional evidence that completes its evidence-in-chief would make its evidence presented during the bail hearings stronger to meet the quantum of evidence required for conviction, which is proof beyond reasonable doubt,” Napoles pointed out.
“All the evidence of the prosecution, taken together as shown herein-above, still fail to identify the main plunderer, an indispensable requirement as part of one of the essential elements of the crime of Plunder as held in the GMA case,” she said.