Sandiganbayan refuses to exclude Napoles brother in Malampaya cases

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 17 2019 11:48 AM

MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 3rd Division was not convinced that Reynald Lim was “just” a brother of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles and that he should be excluded from a slew of cases arising from the Malampaya fund scam. 

In a resolution promulgated on January 14, 2019, the anti-graft court junked the motion for reconsideration filed by Lim on the denial of his motion to quash the cases.

The court noted in the resolution the insistence of Lim that he cannot be charged by the Office of the Ombudsman because “he is not a public officer and is just a brother of accused Napoles.”

The anti-graft court however noted that in Supreme Court decisions on People vs. Go and Zoleta vs. Sandiganbayan, it was declared that private persons who are conspiring with public officals can also be charged with graft and malversation.

“Hence, accused-movant is not only a brother to co-accused Napoles but also an alleged co-conspirator with his other co-accused,” the court said in the resolution penned by Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez, with the concurrence of Presiding Justice and Divsion Chairperson Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez.

Lim is one of the co-accused of his sister, niece and nephew Jo Christine and James Christopher Napoles, former Budget and Management secretary Rolando Andaya, Agrarian Reform secretary Nasser Pangandaman and other individuals in graft and malversation cases pending before the court.

A total of 194 cases were filed by the Office of the Ombudsman on the supposed diversion of funds from the Malampaya oil field in Palawan to relief and rehabilitation efforts for typhoon victims in 2009 but eventually went to bogus non-government organizations of Napoles.

Lim also argued in his appeal that the informations filed against him were lengthy and did not allege specific facts, there was only a “plain suggestion of conspiracy” and there was no specific mention of the documents or signatures he supposedly fabricated or forged.

The court however said that absence of proof of conspiracy is a matter of defense which can be tackled during trial, as stated in Supreme Court decisions on Singian vs. Sandiganbayan People vs. Go People vs. Dumlao Go vs. Sandiganbayan.

“Consequently, courts need not make a determinative finding regarding the existence or non-existence of conspiracy among the accused at this stage of the proceedings,” the court said.

With the denial of his appeal, Lim will be included in the scheduled arraignment of Napoles, Andaya, Pangandaman and all other accused in the Malampaya fund scam on January 18, 2019.