Sandigan clears her in 16 PDAF scam raps, convicts on 2 others
The Sandiganbayan First Division on Monday acquitted imprisoned former businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles in 16 graft cases in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr.
The Second Division, however, convicted Napoles for two counts of graft and two counts of malversation in another set of PDAF cases involving the late Davao del Sur Rep. Douglas Cagas.
The cases handled by the First Division were originally filed against Napoles and Revilla in 2014.
The anti-graft court acquitted Revilla in the plunder case in 2018 while Napoles and other accused individuals were found guilty.
Revilla was also eventually acquitted in 2021 in the graft cases after the court granted his demurrer to evidence.
The First Division cited the failure of the prosecution to prove Napoles guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
The court said: “Considering that the charge of plunder against Revilla, his former political officer Atty. Richard Cambe and Napoles also constitute as graft since they are based on ‘predicate acts,’ the liability of the accused could no longer be determined as they were already included in the plunder case for which they were already prosecuted for.”
“This fact became even more apparent after the presentation of the same testimonial and documentary evidence in both cases,” the court added in the resolution written by Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg. Division Chairman Efren de La Cruz and Associate Justice Arthur Malabaguio concurred.
The anti-graft court also acquitted Gondelina Amata, Ofelia Ordoñez, Sofia Cruz, Evelyn Sucgang, Francisco Figura, Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, Marivic Jover, Consuelo Lilian Espiritu, Victor Roman Cacal, and Maria Ninez Guanizo.
The First Division, however, found accused Dennis Cunanan, Gregoria Buenaventura, Rhodora Mendoza, Evelyn de Leon, Laarni Uy, and Jocelyn Piorato guilty and were meted out six to eight years of imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from public office.
The cases against accused Cambe, Eulogio Rodriguez, and Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal were dismissed due to their death.
The Sandiganbayan Second Division’s decision, on the other hand, stated that the Anti-Money Laundering Council report affirmed the testimony of whistleblower Benhur Luy that non-government organizations involved in the PDAF scheme were owned, controlled, and operated by Napoles.
Aside from Napoles, accused Belina Concepcion and Mylene Encarnacion, as well as Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana were also found guilty by the court of graft.
“Unfortunately, accused Napoles, Encarnacion, and de Leon did not even present any evidence to debunk the above facts,” the anti-graft court said.
The court ordered Napoles, Concepcion, Encarnacion, and Lacsamana to indemnify the government P7.6 million, which was the amount of the PDAF “wrongfully and illegally” disbursed.
The four were also convicted of malversation and ordered to pay a fine of the same amount of P7.6 million.
Others who were implicated in the graft and malversation cases were acquitted, namely Mario Relampagos, Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule, Marilou Bare, Dennis Cunanan, Francisco Figura, Marivic Jover, and Maurine Dimaranan, for the failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Cagas was dropped from the cases following his death in 2021.
Napoles has been serving a 20- to 40-year sentence in the Correctional Institution for Women after a Makati court convicted her of serious illegal detention.