Sandiganbayan suspends Benguet provincial board member pending graft trial

Weak evidence? Sandiganbayan allows Jinggoy, Janet to file demurrer on P184M plunder case

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Is this the beginning of the end? The Sandiganbayan has granted permission to former Senator Jinggoy Estrada and alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles to challenge the sufficiency of the Ombudsman’s evidence in their P183.79-million plunder case.

In two recent per curiam resolutions, the court’s 5th Division granted Estrada and Napoles’s motions for leave to file their demurrers.

This would give the two plunder suspects a chance to cut the trial short and secure an early acquittal.

Estrada and Napoles’s demurrers would have to show that the prosecution’s evidence would not be enough to support their conviction, even if they did not refute it with evidence to defend their innocence.

The court gave Estrada and Napoles the opportunity after conducting “a meticulous examination of the totality of the evidence presented by the prosecution, both testimonial and documentary.”

The resolutions were signed by Associate Justices Rafael Lagos, Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega, and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac.

Estrada was accused of pocketing P183.79 million in kickbacks in exchange for diverting his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations to bogus foundations allegedly controlled by Napoles.

The actor-politician argued that the prosecution failed to show he was the mastermind or main plunderer in the case, as well as prove the existence of a conspiracy. He also cited the fact that the court granted his bail petition in September 2017 on the ground of weak evidence.

Napoles raised similar arguments and added that the prosecution failed to prove that the PDAF proceeds landed in the pockets of any public officer.

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