MANILA – The Sandiganbayan allowed former senator Jinggoy Estrada and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles to seek the dismissal of their plunder charges in relation to the multibillion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
The anti-graft court’s Fifth Division granted the motion for leave of court by Estrada and Napoles to file a demurrer to evidence in their plunder case.
It cited Section 23, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court, which states that a demurrer to evidence is an objection by one of the parties to the effect that the evidence which his adversary produced is insufficient in point of law, whether true or not, to sustain the issue.
“After a careful examination of the totality of the evidence presented by the prosecution, both testimonial and documentary, the court resolves to grant the present motion of the accused, to sufficiently provide him an opportunity to challenge the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence establishing the material elements of the offense charged to support a judgment of guilt,” the court said.
With the anti-graft court’s decision on their separate motions, Estrada and Napoles can now challenge the sufficiency of the evidence presented by the prosecution in relation to the plunder cases against them through demurrer to evidence.
Estrada and Napoles were given 10 days from the receipt of the resolution to file their respective demurrers, while the prosecution is given another 10 days after the accused’s camps file their documents to submit comments before the court makes a decision on the charges.
If ever the demurrer to evidence filed by Estrada and Napoles are denied, they may still present their own testimonial and documentary evidence in their defense.
Estrada, who has been out on bail since September 2017, is currently campaigning for a return to the Senate, while Napoles is detained at the women’s correctional facility in Mandaluyong City./PN