SC upholds Napoles indictment over pork barrel scam

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) upheld the Ombudsman's indictment of Janet Lim-Napoles and several others over the alleged misuse of lawmakers' discretionary funds.

In 3 rulings issued on Tuesday, August 30, the SC en banc dismissed separate petitions challenging the Ombudsman's resolutions that ordered the filing of graft charges against the petitioners in connection to the pork barrel scam. 

"The Court found no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Ombudsman in finding probable cause to indict petitioners. The Court deferred to the findings of the Ombudsman in the absence of grave abuse of discretion," the SC said.

In its resolutions issued in September and November 2014, the Ombudsman found probable cause to charge Napoles with 3 counts of graft, malversation of public funds, and corruption of public officers. This was related to the alleged anomalous disbursement of P50.5 million worth of priority development assistance funds (PDAF) of former Cagayan de Oro Representative Constantino Jaraula from 2004 to 2007.

Napoles and co-respondents John Raymund de Asis and Allan Javellana also faced the same charges in connection to P54 million in questionable disbursements from the PDAF of former Benguet Representative Samuel Dangwa from 2004 to 2007. The SC also dismissed the petition for certiorari challenging the Ombudsman's indictment. 

Javellana and Antonio Ortiz of the Technology Resource Center also challenged 3 Ombudsman resolutions issued in March 2014, which found probable cause against the petitioners for several counts of graft over the disbursements from the PDAF of former senators Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr, Jinggoy Ejercito, and Juan Ponce Enrile. 

The SC also dismissed this petition.

In 2014, the 3 were charged with plunder for allegedly pocketing kickbacks in the multi-million peso scam to divert public funds to fake non-government organizations.

Revilla and Ejercito remain detained while Enrile was freed on bail.

In 2015, Napoles was sentenced to reclusion perpetua or a jail term of up to 40 years after she was found guilty of illegally detaining her former employee-turned-whistleblower, Benhur Luy.