Ombudsman withdraws amended charge sheet vs Enrile

MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court granted on Monday, June 30, the motion of Ombudsman prosecutors to withdraw their bid to amend the charge sheet against Senator Juan Ponce Enrile in relation to his plunder case.

In a one-page resolution, the justices of the 3rd division found the reasons stated by the prosecutors in their motion to withdraw “to be meritorious.”

Prosecutors filed on June 26 a motion to admit amended information against Enrile, seeking the change the same details they wanted changed in the charge sheets of senators Ramon Revilla Jr and Jinggoy Estrada.

The 3 opposition senators are facing plunder and graft charges for allegedly channelling their discretionary Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to fake non-governmental organizations in exchange for kickbacks.

The supposed change in the information or charge sheet involved striking down a sentence indicating that it was businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles who misappropriated lawmakers’ PDAF “for her personal gain.”

The intent to change seemed to have been triggered by an argument of the Napoles’ camp that the crime of plunder is geared toward enriching a public official and not a private individual like Napoles.

The amended information, now withdrawn, would have indicated that it was the senators who amassed ill-gotten wealth. (READ: Ombudsman ‘blunder’ may cause the plunder charges?)

The motion to withdraw was filed Monday, a day before a hearing on the changes sought was set by the Sandiganbayan’s 3rd division.

Prosecutors argued that continuing with their motion to admit amended information would cause undue delay in the cases, given the replies and comments to be filed by the defense.

The resolution approving the withdrawal of motion was signed by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, Associate Justice Samuel Martires, and Associate Justice Alex Quiroz. – Rappler.com