MANILA (UPDATED) - The Pasig City trial court has granted the Department of Justice's (DOJ) plea for the withdrawal of the qualified theft case alleged "pork barrel scam queen" Janet Lim Napoles filed against primary whistleblower Benhur Luy.
In an order issued today, July 9, Pasig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 155 Judge Maria Gracia Cadiz-Casaclang said the DOJ's Motion to Withdraw Information is "with merit."
In its plea, the DOJ cited its reversal of a resolution dated June 25, 2013 that found probable cause to indict Luy.
The DOJ said Napoles filed the case less than a month after Luy executed an affidavit detailing his alleged serious illegal detention by Napoles and her brother, Reynald Lim, with the intention of "harassing" Luy and using the qualified theft case, also a non-bailable offense, as a "leverage" against Luy.
In his criminal charge against his former boss, Luy said Napoles wanted to prevent him from testifying on her alleged modus involving the siphoning of the Priority Devt Assistance Fund (PDAF) of several lawmakers into her "bogus" NGOs.
"The timing and circumstances surrounding the filing of this case cannot simply be brushed aside by this court, as it casts a heavy pall of doubt on the accusations lodged by private complainant (Napoles) against Luy.
"In view of the fact that the complaint for qualified theft was filed against Luy only after the latter initiated a criminal case against private complainant, the court cannot help but consider the allegations of Napoles as self-serving," the RTC ruling read.
The RTC further said that Napoles' "credibility is seriously in question, hence, her accusations cannot be given persuasive weight."
NAPOLES FAILED TO PROVIDE VITAL EVIDENCE
The RTC also stressed that aside from her claims, Napoles failed to present evidence that Luy actually received the amount in question, which is P300,000.
"[T]he court cannot rely on complainant's mere say-so that she gave Luy the sum of P300,000.00 which the latter misappropriated...statements of Napoles are too improbable and contrary to common sense and experience to be worthy of credence.
"[A] businessperson such as Napoles would forget that she had placed such significant amount of money in a bag and not recall where the same was sourced," the ruling read.
The RTC pointed out that Napoles also failed to give details about the alleged incident when she gave Luy the money.
"[A]s things stand, there is no independent evidence on record which can serve as basis for the court to conclude that Benhur Luy had indeed received the amount of P300,000.00 from Janet Napoles.
"Rather, the records support the accused's defense that the instant case was merely instituted by complainant Napoles as a leverage against him for his serious illegal detention case against her," the ruling read.
LUY CAMP HAILS RULING
The camp of Luy lauded the trial court's ruling.
Luy's lawyer, Raji Mendoza, said that right at the outset, there was no evidence to pin down his client.
Mendoza added that with this issue aside, Luy's camp can now focus on the prosecution of Napoles and her co-accused in the plunder and graft charges with the Sandiganbayan in connection with the "pork barrel scam," as well as the serious illegal detention case against Napoles and her brother, Reynald Lim, before a Makati court.
"We are relieved and thankful for the dismissal. We laud the court for seeing through Napoles' intentions in filing the case. The case was obviously a mere leverage/ retaliatory case against the serious illegal detention filed by Benhur vs Napoles.
"This case was filed after about 4 months after it happened and the crux of the decision is that there was not an iota of evidence showing that Benhur received the alleged missing Php300k. We can now focus on the cases against Napoles," Mendoza said.