THE PHILIPPINES’ anti-graft court has rejected several pleas seeking to dismiss corruption charges against the so-called pork barrel queen scam and her accomplices.
In an eight-page resolution dated June 2 and released on Monday, the Sandiganbayan Second Division said the petitioners had failed to prove that the Justice department lacked evidence to prosecute businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and her alleged co-conspirators.
She is being tried for facilitating the release of P15 million worth of congressional funds for a livelihood project in the district of former Nueva Ecija Rep. Aurelio M. Umali that allegedly did not exist.
“The 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 a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act as well as their conspiracy in the commission,” according to a copy of the decision penned by Associate Justice Arthur O. Malabaguio.
“They have not provided any reason or explanation on how they arrived at such a conclusion.”
The court also junked Ms. Napoles’s pleading to have the case dismissed, as well as that of Mr. Umali.
“It must be emphasized that at this point, the court is not yet passing upon the merits of the case,” the Sandiganbayan said. “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.”
The pork barrel allowed legislators to fund small-scale projects in their districts that fell outside the national infrastructure program and was voided by the Supreme Court in 2013 for being illegal. — John Victor D. Ordoñez