Sandiganbayan junks Napoles appeal for dismissal of plunder cases

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 03 2019 06:44 PM

MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 5th Division has denied the demurrer to evidence filed by Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives Party-list Rep. Edgar Valdez and former businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles for the dismissal of their P57 million plunder case.

In a decision of the anti-graft court promulgated on August 28, 2019, the demurrers to evidence of Napoles and Valdez were denied for utter lack of merit.

“The case before us is replete with evidence that would warrant a conviction if not rebutted by the defense,” the court said in the resolution penned by Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Rafael Lagos and Associate Justice Maryann Corpus-Manalac.

Valdez is one of the first batch of lawmakers slapped with plunder as well as graft cases, during the administration of former President Noynoy Aquino and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, in connection with multi-billion peso Priority Development Assistance Fund scam.

In his demurrer, Valdez noted that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt and that that there was no evidence that he exerted undue pressure on the agencies tasked to implement what turned out to be bogus projects.

Napoles for her part maintained, among others, that principal prosecution witness Benhur Luy was a “tainted witness.”

The two also stressed that the Supreme Court decision on the plunder case of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wherein there was a failure to identify a main plunderer should have been applied to their case.

“Lamentably for the accused, they cannot invoke the doctrine of stare decisis as the facts involved here are not substantially similar with those of the Macapagal-Arroyo case,” the court said.

With the denial of their demurrers, Valdez and Napoles were directed by the court to present their own pieces of evidence starting on September 12, 2019.