By Vince F. Nonato, October 12 2018; Philippine Daily Inquirer
Image Credit to ABS-CBN News
The Sandiganbayan will proceed with the trial of Reynald Lim, the brother of businesswoman and alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, in connection with the P900-million Malampaya fund scandal.
In an eight-page resolution dated Oct. 5, the antigraft court’s Third Division denied Lim’s motion to quash his indictment for 97 counts each of graft and malversation through falsification.
Lim had questioned the validity of the charges for not specifically detailing his role in the alleged “conspiracy” to divert the royalties from the gas field in the West Philippine Sea to fraudulent livelihood projects meant for the victims of Tropical Storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” in 2009.
However, the court said it was enough for the Ombudsman prosecutors to implicate him in a “conspiracy” without a lengthy explanation.
It said the absence of proof of conspiracy was a matter “best passed upon after a full-blown trial on the merits.”
“Courts need not make a determinative finding regarding the existence or nonexistence of conspiracy among the accused at this stage of the proceedings,” read the resolution.
The resolution was penned by Associate Justice Bernelito R. Fernandez and concurred in by Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Sarah Jane T. Fernandez.
The multiple cases arose from the alleged diversion of the discretionary funds to 12 dubious foundations linked to Napoles. Lim, as well as Napoles’ children and employees allegedly helped her by fabricating assistance request letters from the mayors of 97 municipalities and cities in Luzon.
Napoles allegedly gave kickbacks to former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, who is now mayor of Masiu, Lanao del Sur.
This was allegedly in exchange for the requests for the release of the funds by the Department of Budget and Management, then headed by Rolando Andaya Jr., who is now House majority leader.