MANILA, Philippines – Almost a year ago, on Jan 21, 2013, Reynald Lim, younger brother of pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim Napoles, was granted mercy by the Sandiganbayan in connection with the ghost delivery of Kevlar helmets to the Philippine Marines in 1998. He, along with his wife and mother, were sentenced to 4-8 years in prison.
Lim, who was identified in court records as Reynaldo Lim Francisco, along with his wife, Anna Marie Dulguime, secured a probation order in exchange for serving time in jail after they were found guilty of falsification of public documents.
The probation order, signed by Fourth Division chair Justice Gregory Ong, allowed the two to remain scot-free provided they follow certain conditions.
Among the conditions were: 1) they should reside in their given address; 2) they would devote themselves to a specific lawful employment; 3) they should “refrain from associating with persons of questionable character; 4) they “shall maintain a law abiding behavior at all times and avoid committing any further criminal offense” and 5) they shall render community service by planting 10 fruit-bearing trees each month and shall participate in civic, social and spiritually-oriented activities.
The probation order covered a period of one year, for which Lim and Dulguime would have to make a progress report to the court.
To the couple, the probation order brought to close more than a decade of pretending to be non-related and masking their association with Janet Lim Napoles by using identities aimed at confusing the Court.
During the entire course of the case, Lim and Dulguime gave different addresses to the court, with the former using his mother’s maiden surname as his last name and the latter using her maiden name.
All throughout the case, the two did not disclose to the anti-graft court that they were husband and wife. Nor did they identify themselves as related to Napoles by consanguinity and affinity, respectively. Napoles was among those charged as the supposed supplier of the Kevlar helmets but she got acquitted. (Read: How Janet-Lim Napoles got away)
Reynald, in fact, had been violating court impositions by leaving the country without any court permission. With a different name in the court case, he was able to slip out of the country from time to time.
It was only when the pork barrel scam exploded that their associations were exposed.
In January 10 this year, or almost a year since he was granted probation, the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division finally issued a resolution ordering Reynald to explain why his probation should not be revoked for “violating the terms and conditions” stated in the probation order.
The Court only issued the order months after Reynald and his sister Janet Napoles were charged in a Makati court for alleged serious illegal detention. The case was filed by pork scam principal whistleblower Benhur Luy. According to Luy, Napoles ordered his detention after she supposedly found out that Luy had betrayed her in their pork barrel scheme. It was Reynald who facilitated his kidnapping, moving him from one place to another.
Reynald has since been a fugitive of the law, after the lower court issued an arrest warrant for him and Napoles in the illegal detention case. Napoles evaded arrest for weeks before surrendering in August 2013.
Up to now, Reynald’s whereabouts are still unknown.
SC secures Kevlar’s case
If the Sandiganbayan is going after Reynald, the Supreme Court, it appears, is going after the anti-graft justices who handled the Kevlar case.
Rappler found out that on the day the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division issued the resolution versus Reynald, the High Court also secured all the case documents pertaining to the Kevlar case.
A staff in the Fourth Division said a SC staff went to the Sandiganbayan and obtained all the documents upon order by the SC en banc.
SC spokesperson Theodore Te, in a phone interview, said he was not aware of the SC move. He also refused to second-guess why the High Court wanted to examine the Kevlar case.
Could it be related to the SC directive ordering Justice Ong to explain his ties to Napoles?
The Tribunal has asked Ong to explain his association to Napoles after one of the witnesses, Marina Sula, tagged the anti-graft court justice as among the frequent visitors of Napoles in her Discovery Suites office in Ortigas. (Read: Explain Napoles links, SC orders justice)
In the decision penned by Justice Jose Hernandez and concurred in by Justices Ong and Maria Cristina Cornejo in the Kevlar case, Napoles was acquitted from the charge of conspiring with the alleged fictitious dealers that bagged the P3.8 million contract to provide the military with Kevlar helmets since “she was not one of the dealers-payees in the transaction in question, (and) on this score alone, her participation as a private individual becomes remote.”
The Court added: “Even if she owns the bank account where the 14 checks were later deposited, this does not in itself translate to her conspiracy in the crime charged in the information, absent evidence of an overt act on her part.” Her husband, retired Major Jaime Napoles, was initially charged but was also cleared.
But Ong’s impartiality on the case was put to doubt after a photo surfaced showing him posing with Napoles for a photo opportunity during a party hosted by his good friend, Senator Jinggoy Estrada. (Read: Exclusive: Napoles parties with anti-graft court justice)
The lawmaker is among the 3 senators being investigated by the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged misuse of their pork barrel funds.
Napoles always attended parties and events with her husband, and Ong could not have missed the connection or relationship between her and Jaime Napoles. – Rappler.com