Napoles camp seeks charges vs. 3 Sandiganbayan justices

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 6) — Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles wants three Sandiganbayan justices charged for what she calls a “haphazard decision” on her latest conviction.

In a statement on Saturday, Napoles’ lawyer, Rony Garay, said they are preparing the complaint against Justice Edgardo Caldona, who penned the ruling that convicted Napoles of multiple counts of graft and malversation, as well as Justices Efren dela Cruz and Geraldine Faith Econg, who concurred.

Napoles’ camp wants the justices of the anti-graft court’s first division held liable for “gross ignorance of the law, manifest partiality and extreme bias.”

Napoles accused the justices of having “a predisposition to convict her without looking at the evidence,” that’s why in the first decision released by the court, she was wrongfully convicted of direct bribery, an offense she was not charged with. The Sandiganbayan in an amended decision removed this mistake, calling it a “typographical error,” Garay said.

In its 103-page ruling released on Friday, the Sandiganbayan also found former Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Constantino Jaraula and three others guilty as well for funneling some ₱28.8 million of the lawmaker’s Priority Development Assistance Fund into the non-government organization Countrywide Agri and Rural Economic Development Foundation, or CARED.

Jaraula was separately convicted of direct bribery for receiving at least ₱2 million in kickbacks from Napoles in exchange for choosing CARED as the partner NGO in the implementation of his PDAF-funded livelihood program for farmers in the lone district of Cagayan de Oro in 2007.

Napoles’ camp, however, said the Sandiganbayan used inadmissible evidence under the country’s cybercrime law, and “failed to consider” the motion to reopen the case on the grounds that the evidence was “illegally accessed.” It cited Benhur Luy's admission that he hacked into the computer of Napoles' JLN Coporation.

Luy, the second cousin of Napoles who previously worked for her, testified that he transacted with Jaraula and even gave him the rebates, as evidenced by his daily disbursement reports which even matched public records of PDAF releases and deposits made to the accounts of CARED and Jaraula. Napoles’ camp said Luy was lying.

Jaraula also denied the allegations, saying his signatures in documents relating to his PDAF were forged, but the Sandiganbayan says an examination shows they “very similar, if not identical" with those he claims to be genuine.

The Supreme Court declared PDAF unconstitutional in 2013 following the exposé that billions of pesos went to bogus NGOs and pocketed by Napoles and her cohorts, composed of both public officials and private individuals.

In 2018, Napoles was sentenced to up to 40 years in prison for plunder in connection with the misuse of Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.'s PDAF, while the lawmaker walked free due to lack of evidence that he benefited from the scheme.