Alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles was granted bail yesterday by the Sandiganbayan which she would likely reject because of her conviction for serious illegal detention and the filing anew of two counts of graft and two counts of malversation of public funds charges against her and 21 other co-accused.
Former Davao del Sur First District Representative Marc Douglas Cagas, former Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairperson Zenaida Cruz-Ducut, as well as several others have been charged over their involvement in the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed against them two counts of violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and two counts of malversation of public funds under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
Apart from Cagas, Ducut and Napoles, the Ombudsman also charged along with them in all the cases Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and staff members Rosario Nuñez, Marilou Bare, and Lalaine Paule; and private individuals Jesus Castillo, Margarito Guadinez, Ireneo Pirater, and Jocelyn Deiparine.
Also charged in some of the cases are former and current officials of the Technology Resource Center (TRC) Director General Antonio Ortiz, Deputy Director General Dennis Cunanan, group manager Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, budget officer Consuelo Lilian Espiritu, group manager Francisco Figura, and chief accountant Marivic Jover; and National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR) employees Victor Roman Cacal, Romulo Relevo, Maria Ninez Guanizo, Ma. Julie Villaralvo-Johnson, and Rhodora Mendoza.
Under the charges, Cagas and Ducut were accused of having received kickbacks for having chosen the non-government organizations (NGOs) of Napoles in 2008 to implement projects that were funded by his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Even though the NGOs did not undergo the required public bidding and were unqualified to the projects, the NGOs still received a total of P7.55 million to implement the projects which were later found to be non-existent.
The charged DBM officials were accused of having facilitated the processing of the Special Allotment Release Orders (SAROs) and Notice of Cash Allocations (NCA) that allowed the release of the funds. The TRC and DBM officials and personnel were charged for having entered into respective memorandum of agreements with the NGOs in implementing the ghost projects.
The Ombudsman recommended that each of the accused post a bail bond of P30,000 for each count of graft and P40,000 for each count of malversation.
United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay insinuated that Liberal Party (LP) bet Mar Roxas and party chairman President Aquino may have played a role in the granting Napoles’ bail petition.
Binay, in a chance interview at the Tangub City Hall in Misamis Occidental harked back at how his Palace rival called Napoles “Ma’am Jenny.”
“What I know is ang tawag kay Napoles ni Mr. Roxas ay ‘Ma’am Jenny.’ Si Mr. Roxas… teacher niya rin si Napoles (Mr. Roxas used to call Napoles ‘Ma’am Jenny’. Napoles is his teacher),” Binay said.
Malacañang, for its part, said Napoles must remain in jail despite the anti-graft court’s decision allowing her to post bail in connection with a plunder case.
Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. argued that Napoles has already been found guilty of illegally detention charges and has been sentenced to life imprisonment.
“We note the resolution of the Sandiganbayan in granting bail to Ms. Napoles, being a separate branch of government under the Judiciary,” Coloma said in a statement.
“However, it should be emphasized that Ms. Napoles was convicted in April 2015 by the Makati RTC for serious illegal detention. Accordingly, she cannot be released due to such conviction and the several other cases for plunder pending against her,” she added.
Lanete, who has been detained in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City since February, 2015, has been charged for allegedly receiving P108 million worth of kickbacks from 2004 to 2010 in exchange for choosing the non-government organizations (NGOs) of Napoles in implementing ghost projects funded by her Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) during her term as a representative of Masbate.