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Napoles seeks dismissal of plunder raps

MANILA, Philippines — Detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles has asked the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the plunder case against her in connection with her alleged role in the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel” of former senator and incumbent Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile.

In her 158-page demurrer to evidence filed with the Sandiganbayan Third Division on Nov. 3, Napoles, through her lawyers, said that the plunder case against her must be dismissed on the basis of defective case information or charge sheet as well as “insufficient evidence.”

Napoles, the alleged brains of the multibillion-peso “pork barrel” fund scam, argued that the Office of the Ombudsman, in its charge sheet filed in 2014, failed to identify who between her co-accused public officials – Enrile and his former chief of staff Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes – was the “main plunderer” in the case.

Napoles said such failure is a “fatal defect” that warrants the case’s dismissal.

She cited the Supreme Court (SC)’s July 2016 decision dismissing the plunder case against former president and incumbent Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,

“If two or more public officers are charged of the crime of plunder, one of them must be clearly identified in the (case) information as the main plunderer because it is an element of the crime of plunder that the public officer who amassed, acquired or accumulated ill-gotten wealth be identified in the information as the mastermind or the main plunderer,” Napoles’ demurrer read.

A demurrer allows an accused to seek the dismissal of his or her case without presenting any counter evidence, but solely on the ground of the supposed weakness of evidence presented against him or her by the prosecution.

Napoles maintained that under Republic Act (RA) 7080 or the Plunder Law, a private individual cannot be charged with plunder unless there is an allegation that he or she conspired with a public official who must be the main plunderer in the case.

In 2016, the SC granted Arroyo’s demurrer to evidence in which she prayed for the dismissal of her plunder case in connection with the alleged misuse of the