MANILA — The Supreme Court has affirmed the findings of the Office of the Ombudsman to proceed with the plunder and graft charges against a staff of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles over irregularities in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
The high court has issued an eight-page extended minute resolution, which upheld the findings of probable cause against Robert John Lim, an aid of Napoles.
Lim had challenged the Ombudsman’s March 28, 2014 Joint Resolution and June 4, 2014 Joint Order that recommended the filing of information for plunder and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against Lim and several others.
Lim “miserably failed to show” that the Ombudsman gravely abused its discretion in issuing the rulings, the SC said.
“We recognize that the acts in Cambe, which related to the illegal pillaging of public funds sourced from the PDAF of then-Senator Ramon Revilla, Jr., occurred within the same timeline as the acts in the present case,” the SC ruled, citing the case of Richard Cambe, the chief of staff of former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
The SC pointed out that in the Cambe case, it ruled that “as correctly pointed out by the Ombudsman,” whistleblowers Benhur Luy and Merlina Suñas narrated that Lim was among the staff of Napoles, who would prepare and deliver the kickbacks intended for Revilla.
The court added that following Lim’s failure to file a counter-affidavit before the Ombudsman, it was proper for the Ombudsman to consider his non-filing as a waiver of his right to file it.
In the meantime, the Sandiganbayan 1st Division has asked the SC to give it more time to study on the plunder and graft charges against former Senator Bong Revilla.
In a letter to the high court, the graft court magistrates sought an additional 30 days to hand down its verdict. The letter, dated Nov. 5, 2018, was sent by Sandiganbayan 1st Division Justices Efren Dela Cruz, Geraldine Faith Econg, and Edgardo Caldona, addressed to Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio.
The anti-graft court cited voluminous documentary evidence submitted by the parties during the trial. (PNA)