MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman seek to amend the information they filed with the anti-graft court in relation to the plunder cases of 3 senators.
It appears they were alerted by an argument made by alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles – a co-accused in all 3 cases – that could possibly weaken the cases against senators Ramon Revilla Jr, Jinggoy Estrada, and Juan Ponce Enrile.
Earlier, in assailing the finding of probable cause against her, Napoles argued before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan that no plunder of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund was committed because her actions were meant to enrich herself and not the public officials.
On Wednesday morning, June 25, Ombudsman prosecutors filed before the Sandiganbayan a manifestation with motion to admit amended information against Senator Revilla. They want to strike out the phrase that Napoles siphoned off lawmakers’ discretionary funds “for her personal gain.”
By mid-afternoon, the motion in Estrada’s case was filed as well. A similar motion to amend information in Enrile’s case is expected anytime.
On June 24, the Ombudsman issued a memorandum ordering the amendment of information in all 3 cases.
“The introductory paragraph in each of the informations may be rephrased so as to emphasize that the Senator was the one who amassed, accumulated, and acquired ill-gotten wealth in connivance or in conspiracy with his co-accused public officer and private individuals,” the memo said.
Napoles’ lawyers earlier argued that “jurisprudential doctrine” supposes that conspiracy in a plunder case must be geared toward enriching public officers and not a private individual.
They added that there is no plunder if Napoles, a private individual, was the one who “principally and ultimately benefited.”
“In a Plunder, the pattern of overt or criminal acts must be directed towards a common goal which is to enable the public officer to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth,” her motion read.
The lawyers, however, clarified that they were only stressing the elements of plunder “for the sole purpose of determining whether the charges in the Information” filed by the Ombudsman constitute plunder.
In response, the prosecutors said they “deemed it wise to amend” the information to “minimize” objections.
They noted that any of the senators has yet to be arraigned, so they can still amend the information in form and substance.
Revilla is set for arraignment on Thursday, June 26. – Rappler.com