Sandiganbayan allows Estrada, Napoles to seek plunder case dismissal

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 20, 2019   •   1676

(L-R) Former Senator Jinggoy Estrada and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles

The Sandiganbayan has allowed senatorial candidate Jinggoy Estrada and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles to file for the dismissal of the plunder charge against them.

The 5th division of the Sandiganbayan has given both parties 10 days to file their demurrer of evidence. The prosecution will also be given 10 days to respond.

The resolution states: “After a meticulous examination of the totality of evidence presented by the prosecution, both testimonial and documentary, the Court resolves to grant the present motion of the accused, to sufficiently provide him an opportunity to challenge the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence establishing material elements o the offense charged to support a judgment of guilt.”

Estrada and Napoles are facing plunder and graft charges following their involvement in the ‘pork barrel scam’. Estrada is accused of amassing P180 million kickback from the Priority Development Assistance Fund of bogus non-government organizations which is reportedly linked to Napoles.

READ: Janet Napoles to serve a lifetime in jail over PDAF scam

Estrada denies his involvement with the ‘pork barrel scam’ and connection with Napoles. Meanwhile, Napoles is already convicted in a separate plunder case in December last year.—Aileen Cerrudo

Sandiganbayan dismisses P1-B civil case vs Marcoses

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 8, 2019

Philippines First Lady and current congresswoman Imelda Marcos (2-L) when she visited the tomb of former strongman Ferdinand Marcos to mark National Heroes Day at the ‘Libingan ng mga Bayani’ (Cemetery of Heroes) in Taguig City, south of Manila, Philippines, 28 August 2017. EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

The second division of the Sandiganbayan has dismissed the civil case filed by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) against former President Ferdinand Marcos and wife Imelda Marcos for insufficient evidence over P1 billion worth of alleged ill-gotten wealth.

Based on the decision of the anti-graft court, the PCGG failed to present strong evidence against the Marcoses.

“The plaintiff Republic failed to prove by preponderance of evidence that the defendants by themselves, or in conspiracy with defendants Marcoses, obtained ill-gotten wealth,” the decision reads.

“Lastly, the court also finds that the defendants failed to prove their respective counterclaims alluding to alleged damages sustained.”

According to the Malacañang, the PCGG can still submit an appeal in the Supreme Court.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Marcoses should still be accountable if there is proof of ill-gotten wealth.

“Kung ill-gotten, we should always run after, basta ill-gotten (If it is ill-gotten we should always run after, as long as it is ill-gotten). It should be the policy of all governments to run after ill-gotten wealth,” he said.

The Sandiganbayan previously dismissed the P102 billion worth of forfeiture case against the Marcoses and other respondents last August.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

13 senators to possibly favor reimposition of death penalty

Maris Federez   •   July 25, 2019

The reinstatement of the death penalty may have a glimmer of hope to be passed in the Senate with a seeming majority vote.

Thirteen senators have, so far, manifested to vote for it which include Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senators Bong Go, Ronald Dela Rosa, Sherwin Gatchalian, Aquilino Pimentel III, Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Imee Marcos, Bong Revilla, Francis Tolentino, Cynthia Villar, Pia Cayetano and Manny Pacquiao.

“Basta death penalty, kahit anong paraan, lethal injection , kahit ano, basta death penalty [As long as it’s death penalty, however way it is done. Lethal injection, whatever, as long as it’s death penalty],” said Senator Manny Pacquiao.

Thirteen is enough a number to have the bill passed in the higher chamber of Congress.

However, this could still narrow down as the versions they are pursuing vary, with most of them wanting to limit the imposition of the death penalty to high-level drug trafficking only.

This is in contrary to what President Rodrigo Duterte is pushing which is also to include plunder.

The senators are also divided as to how the said capital punishment must be carried out.

On the other hand, ten senators comprised of Senators Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Leila De Lima, Francis Pangilinan, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Richard Gordon, Grace Poe, Nancy Binay, Ralph Recto and Joel Villanueva have openly opposed the bill.

Senator Sonny Angara has yet to state his position as he prefers to hear the debates regarding the death penalty first. (with reports from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

Outgoing senators reveal plans after Senate

Marje Pelayo   •   May 22, 2019

Upper row: (L-R ) Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Bam Aquino, Francis Escudero Lower row: (L-R) Senators Gringo Honasan, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Loren Legarda

MANILA, Philippines – Six senators of the 17th Congress are soon to leave the Senate.

Senators Francis Escudero, Gringo Honasan, Loren Legarda and Antonio Trillanes IV have until June 30 to serve their last term.

Senators Bam Aquino and Joseph Victor Ejercito, meanwhile, needed to leave following their defeat in the 2019 midterm polls.

Escudero may be leaving the Senate but he remains in public office after winning as governor of Sorsogon.

Legarda, likewise, is shifting to local governance after being proclaimed as the new representative of Antique.

For his part, Honasan said he is still hoping for President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointment of him as head of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

“It’s up in the air. That will be decided after June 30 by the appointing authority,” Honasan said.

Meanwhile, Senators Aquino and Ejercito said that their next plan to enjoy their private lives with their respective families.

“Ngayon ang ating destiny ay maiba hindi man magpatuloy dito. I guess na mahalaga right now just to take steps back. Spend more time with your kids and try to determine how to help the country in other ways,” Aquino said.

“Maraming paraan para tumulong sa ating bayan,” he added.

“Tulungan ko muna ang wife ko sa mga businesses naming,” Ejercito said when asked about his plans following his exit from Senate.

He admitted, however, that he regretted the outcome of running against his brother Jinggoy Estrada.

“Ang regrets ko…ang pinakamabigat kong problema yung dalawa kaming magkapatid na tumakbo,” Ejercito said.

“Sana kinausap ko na lang. Nag-usap kami ng father ko, ng pamilya na nasabi ko na sana ang aking concern. Ilang beses ko sinabi na ito ang mangyayari na pwede kaming mahila lahat pababa. Exactly ito  na nga ang nangyari,” he added.

Trillanes, meanwhile, said he is thinking of going back to school.

The controversial senator earlier said he will remain critical of the Duterte administration even outside of Senate. — Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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