Janet’s immunity junked; 3 senators’ MRs denied

Source: The Daily Tribinue

Jinggoy won’t wait for arrest order, to surrender

Janet-Lim-Napoles.29There were no surprises yesterday with Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales announcing that she had denied the grant of immunity for Janet Lim-Napoles as well as the motions for reconsideration of the three accused senators, Juan Ponce-Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla.

The denial orders from Morales came despite the motions for certoriari of at least two senators before the Supreme Court that had the Ombudsman answer the petitions of Estrada and Revilla.

Morales junked the motion for reconsideration filed by the three senators, the immunity plea and the other respondents in the plunder case filed against them due to the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

The Morales denial of petitions came in three separate Joint Orders dated June 4, 2014.

Revilla and Estrada, reacting to the announced order of the Ombudsman junking their motion yesterday said that Morales’ order denying their MRs comes as no suprise.

Revilla said he never expected to the Ombudsman to rule in his favor.

“I already expected that decision (denial of his motion),” he said, adding that he already knew that she (Morales) would deny their MRs. She intended to charge us all along, and didn’t even bother to read our motions.”

Estrada belitted the Ombudsman’s proceedings on his plunder charges.

“That was all a moro-moro (Play-acting). It was so clear that this was their intention all along. Since it was denied , definitely, that will go with the plan to have us arrested and jailed from the start,” he said.

Enrile has yet to comment on the Ombudsman’s decision, but had earlier denied involvement in the alleged anomaly.

While denying Napoles her petition for immunity, Morales granted immunity from criminal prosecution to witnesses Benhur Luy, Marina Sula, Merlina Suñas, Mary Arlene Baltazar and Simonette Briones.

In the joint orders, Morales found that the motions “carry verbatim repetitions of the issues and claims raised” by respondents in their respective counter-affidavits.

Dennis Cunanan, chief of the Technology and Resources Center who had earlier asked for immunity, was also denied his petition for immunity.

Malacañang said the Ombudsman’s decision denying the MRs of the three senators paves the way for the filing of charges at the Sandiganbayan against the senators tagged in the pork barrel scam.

Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said, “We note the Ombudsman’s Resolution denying the motions for reconsideration of three senators and their co-accused, which paves the way for the filing with the Sandiganbayan of plunder cases. This represents a significant step forward in the judicial process.”

“Since these cases were brought to public attention, heightened citizens’ awareness about corruption and wrongdoing has led our people to insist upon higher standards in public accountability. We hope that with sustained vigilance, the people’s quest for truth and justice will be fulfilled,” he added.

The joint orders stated the motions for reconsideration are rehashes of the arguments previously raised by the respondents that has already been resolved by the anti-graft court.

It also found no violation of the right to procedural process considering that the manner of the service of the order to file counter-affidavit was compliant with Rule 13, Section 6 of the Rules of Court, respondents were given an opportunity to be heard which they availed of by filing their motions for reconsideration, and (iii) requesting respondents were provided with copies of the requested counter-affidavits.

But the lawyer of Revilla, Joel Bodegan, said his client was given only nine documents from the Ombudsman when they had asked for 15, besides which, while Morales did provide the affidavits of their accusers, this was done after Revilla and Estrada filed their petitions for certoriari before the high court, which is still pending.

With the said findings, the order repeated that the Ombudsman found probable cause on the charges filed against the respondents and will serve to pave the way for the filing of a criminal information before the Sandiganbayan.

Morales also denied the motions filed by Rhodora Mendoza, Victor Roman Cacal and Cunanan, as well as their respective applications for immunity from criminal prosecution.

The two failed to meet all the qualifications to be discharged as immune witnesses.

“There is no absolute necessity for their respective testimonies, and there are other (pieces of) direct evidence available, both testimonial and documentary, for the proper prosecution of the offenses committed,” the Joint Order read.

This holds true with Napoles who also filed an immunity request but also filed to meet the qualifications set for an immune witness.

“Furthermore, Napoles appears to be among the most guilty of all respondents” in these cases, stated the letter which was in response to the letter of Napoles’ counsel requesting to utilize her as state witness and grant her immunity.

The Special Panel conducting the preliminary investigation is composed of Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer IV (GIPO IV) M.A. Christian Uy as chairperson, with GIPO II Francisca Serfino, GIPO II Ruth Laura Mella, GIPO II Anna Francesca Limbo, and GIPO I Jasmine Ann Gapatan as members.

The Ombudsman stated that the facts submitted to her office were found sufficient enough to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and the respondent is probably guilty thereof and should be held for trial[, and] needs only to rest on evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed and that it was committed by the accused.

Probable cause was found by the Ombudsman from the sworn complaints, testimonies of witnesses, PDAF public documents, the Commission on Audit Report, business ledgers, corporate papers of Napoles’ NGOs, results of field verification, and admissions of some respondents themselves in their submissions and not mere suspicion alone.

Morales in a 66-page Joint Order Enrile, and other respondents junked the motions for reconsideration the senator filed along with Jessica Lucila Reyes, Jose Antonio Evangelista II, Francisco Figura, Marivic Jover, Antonio Ortiz, Alan Javellana, Maria Julie Villaralvo-Johnson, Romulo Relevo, Chita Jalandoni, Filipina Tolentino Rodriquez, Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal, Sophia Daing Cruz, Gondelina Amata, Ofelia Ordoñez, Mario Relampagos, Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule, Marilou Bare, Janet Lim Napoles, Jo Christine Napoles, James Christopher Napoles, Eulogio Rodriguez, Dorilyn Agbay Fabian, Nitz Cabilao, Ronald John Lim, Renato Ornopia, and John Raymond de Asis.

With regard to the motion of another accused Consuelo Lilian Espiritu, the Ombudsman Morales partially granted her plea but indicted her for just one count instead of two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The Ombudsman explained the accused was able to establish that she did not sign or process the other set of disbursement vouchers involving the Technology Resource Center, the agency to which Espiritu is connected.
Likewise, the motion of Revilla and Richard Cambe, Janet Lim Napoles, Ofelia Ordoñez, Francisco Figura, Ma. Ninez Guañizo, Chita Jalandoni, Maria Julie Villaralvo-Johnson, Gregoria Buenaventura, Mario Relampagos, Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule, Marilou Bare, Romulo Relevo, Ronald John Lim, Alan Javellana, Gondelina Mata, John Raymond de Asis, Sophia Cruz, Marivic Jover, Antonio Ortiz, Consuelo Lilian Espiritu, Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal, and Eulogio Rodriguez was also denied by the Ombudsman.

The motion of Romulo Relevo was granted reversing the finding of probable cause for four counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, after he provided evidence that he did not participate in any of the transactions mentioned in the case.

Just the same Estrada’s motion along with Francisco Figura, Marivic Jover, Antonio Ortiz, Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal, Sophia Daing Cruz, Gondelina Amata, Gregoria Buenaventura, Chita Jalandoni, Alan Javellana, Maria Ninez Guanizo, Maria Julie Villaralvo-Johnson, Mario Relampagos, Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule, Marilou Bare, Janet Napoles, and John Raymond De Asis was denied by the Ombudsman.

Because of the said denial of the motions for reconsideration of the said respondents in the case the filing of criminal informations for plunder and violations of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act is expected to be filed by the Ombudsman.

Likewise, yesterday the Sandiganbayan met with reporters that will cover the hearing of the plunder case and set all the guidelines that would govern the entire coverage of the case.

The Sandiganbayan will only allow reporters who have been duly accredited by the Sheriff and Security of the anti-graft court and those who were not issued identification cards will not be allowed inside.

Only one representative from newspaper, television, radio and online would be allowed inside the court room and interviews will be allowed 15 minutes before the start of the hearing proper. By Alvin Murcia, Angie M. Rosales


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