Napoles appeals plunder conviction

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 28 2018 02:30 PM

The Sandiganbayan found businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles guilty of plunder for her involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam, December 7, 2018. The same ruling acquitted former senator Bong Revilla and found his former chief of staff Richard Cambe guilty. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles has appealed her conviction for plunder over her involvement in the multibillion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam, filing a motion for reconsideration before the Sandiganbayan 1st Division. 

In the motion, her lawyer Erwin Legaspi insisted that there was no main plunderer in the P224-million plunder case, where former Senator Bong Revilla was acquitted. 

Napoles, along with Revilla's former chief-of-staff Richard Cambe, were convicted in the case while the former Senator was cleared and released from detention. The case involved Revilla's discretionary funds during his time as lawmaker.

Napoles' plea also stressed that there was no conspiracy established, which means that all the other alleged co-conspirators should also be freed from liability, as Revilla was.

“The acquittal of accused Revilla necessarily negated the crime of plunder because there is no main plunderer who amassed ill-gotten wealth in the aggregate sum of at least P50 million, which is a mandatory element of the crime,” Legaspi said.

The motion also quoted some parts of the dissenting opinion of 1st Division Chairperson Efren De la Cruz and Associate Justice Maria Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta, who said Revilla was the “main plunderer” or “main accused.”

“But, the questioned decision of the court acquitted Revilla, the main accused-plunderer, and convicted his co-accused Napoles and Cambe for allegedly conspiring with one another in committing the crime of plunder,” Legaspi said.

Napoles also insisted that in the Supreme Court decision on Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada vs. Sandiganbayan, it was categorically stated that it should be the public official who must have amassed at least P50 million.

Napoles also noted that the prosecution failed to prove that Cambe amassed P50 million and that Revilla got kickbacks from his PDAF.

“Applying the same standard of appreciating possibilities, which merited the acquittal of accused Revilla, there is also a possibility that the conspiracy may be between Cambe and Benhur Luy represented to have been given to Revilla [but] was actually stashed in the bank accounts of Benhur Luy himself,” Legaspi said.

Napoles also insisted that Luy and other prosecution witnesses were not credible witnesses, thus the decision of the court should be “reconsidered, reversed and set aside” and a decision acquitting her should be rendered.

CAMBE TO GO STRAIGHT TO SC

Cambe's camp, meanwhile, told the court he was going straight to the Supreme Court to appeal his conviction. 

“Accused Cambe, by counsel, respectfully serves notice that he is appealing the decision dated 7 December 2018 of this honorable court in the above-captioned case to the honorable Supreme Court, for being contrary to law and the evidence on record,” lawyer Manuel Joseph Bretaña said in a notice.

Bretaña also formally entered his appearance as Cambe's new lawyer.

“It is respectfully requested that its appearance be noted and that copies of all processes, orders, pleadings and other documents be furnished undersigned counsel at his office address indicated,” Bretaña said.