Criminal cases to be filed before Sandiganbayan
MANILA (1st UPDATE) - Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales is pushing through with the filing of plunder and graft cases against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla and several others before the the Sandiganbayan after rejecting their motions for reconsideration (MRs).
In a statement, Morales said she issued three separate Joint Orders, all dated June 4, 2014, denying the motions for reconsideration filed by Enrile, Revilla, Estrada, Janet Napoles and co-respondents in the "pork barrel scam" cases involving the irregular diversion of Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to alleged "dummy" non-government organizations (NGOs).
Morales said she found that the motions "carry verbatim repetitions of the issues and claims raised" by respondents in their respective counter-affidavits.
"Evidently, the motions for reconsideration are rehashes of the arguments previously raised by them and already resolved by this Office,” the Joint Orders read.
The Joint Orders also found no violation of the right to procedural process considering that (i) the manner of the service of the order to file counter-affidavit was compliant with Rule 13, Section 6 of the Rules of Court, (ii) respondents were given an opportunity to be heard which they availed of by filing their motions for reconsideration, and (iii) requesting respondents were provided with copies of the requested counter-affidavits.
The Joint Orders reiterated that “probable cause, for purposes of filing a criminal information, refers to such facts as are sufficient to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and the respondent is probably guilty thereof and should be held for trial[,and] needs only to rest on evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed and that it was committed by the accused.”
They stated that the finding of probable cause was not based on suspicion but on the sworn complaints, testimonies of witnesses, PDAF public documents, COA Report, business ledgers, corporate papers of Napoles’ NGOs, results of field verification, and admissions of some respondents themselves in their submissions.
Spokesman and Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan earlier said the three senators and other respondents were involved in an alleged modus operandi where they “repeatedly received sums of money from [businesswoman Janet Napoles]…” that took place for a number of years.
"The joint resolutions concluded that the three senators took undue advantage of their positions to illegally divert, in connivance [with others], their priority development assistance fund to the Napoles NGOs."
Enrile allegedly plundered P172 million; Revilla, P242 million; and Estrada, P183 million.
In approving the filing of the complaints, the Ombudsman said the respondents "conspired… causing undue injury to the government."
In the case of Enrile, 15 counts of graft raps will be filed against the senator, chief of staff Gigi Reyes, Ruby Tuason, Janet Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim, and John Raymond de Asis.
In the case of Revilla, 16 counts of graft raps will be filed against the senator, Richard Cambe, as well as Napoles, Lim, and de Asis.
In the case of Estrada, 11 counts of graft will be filed against the senator, Pauline Labayen, as well as Napoles, Lim, de Asis, and Tuason.
PARTIAL GRANTS OF MR
In the 66-page Joint Order pertaining to the case against Sen. Enrile, et al., Ombudsman Morales denied the motions for reconsideration filed by Sen. Enrile, Jessica Lucila Reyes, Jose Antonio Evangelista II, Francisco Figura, Marivic Jover, Antonio Ortiz, Alan Javellana, Maria Julie Villaralvo-Johnson, Romulo Relevo, Chita Jalandoni, Filipina Tolentino Rodriquez, Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal, Sophia Daing Cruz, Gondelina Amata, Ofelia Ordoñez, Mario Relampagos, Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule, Marilou Bare, Janet Lim Napoles, Jo Christine Napoles, James Christopher Napoles, Eulogio Rodriguez, Dorilyn Agbay Fabian, Nitz Cabilao, Ronald John Lim, Renato Ornopia, and John Raymond de Asis.
Morales partially granted, however, the motion of respondent Consuelo Lilian Espiritu, and indicted her for just one (1) count instead of two (2) counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, she having established that she did not process or sign the other set of disbursement vouchers involving the Technology Resource Center, the agency to which Espiritu is connected.
In the 55-page Joint Order pertaining to the case against Sen. Revilla, et al., Ombudsman Morales denied the motions for reconsideration filed by Sen. Revilla, Richard Cambe, Janet Lim Napoles, Ofelia Ordoñez, Francisco Figura, Ma. Ninez Guañizo, Chita Jalandoni, Maria Julie Villaralvo-Johnson, Gregoria Buenaventura, Mario Relampagos, Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule, Marilou Bare, Romulo Relevo, Ronald John Lim, Alan Javellana, Gondelina Mata, John Raymond de Asis, Sophia Cruz, Marivic Jover, Antonio Ortiz, Consuelo Lilian Espiritu, Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal, and Eulogio Rodriguez.
Morales granted, however, the motion of respondent Romulo Relevo, and reversed the earlier finding of probable cause for four (4) counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, he having established that he did not participate in any of the subject transactions in this case.
In the 45-page Joint Order pertaining to the case against Sen. Estrada, et al., Ombudsman Morales denied the motions for reconsideration filed by Sen. Estrada, Francisco Figura, Marivic Jover, Antonio Ortiz, Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal, Sophia Daing Cruz, Gondelina Amata, Gregoria Buenaventura, Chita Jalandoni, Alan Javellana, Maria Ninez Guanizo, Maria Julie Villaralvo-Johnson, Mario Relampagos, Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule, Marilou Bare, Janet Napoles, and John Raymond De Asis.
Ombudsman Morales partially granted, however, the motion of Relevo in this case, and indicted him for just one (1) count instead of five (5) counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, he having established that he did not process or sign the four other disbursement vouchers involving NABCOR, the agency to which Relevo is connected.