Sandiganbayan's 4th division to hear Lanete's plunder, graft cases
The raffle was conducted a day after the Office of the Ombudsman formally filed charges against five former members of the House of Representatives for allegedly funneling their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) of suspected scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Meanwhile, the Fifth Division, under Associate Justice Roland Jurado, will handle the plunder and seven counts of graft cases against former APEC party-list Rep. Edgar Valdez.
Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and concurrent chairperson of the Third Division of Sandiganbayan will handle one count of malversation, five counts of direct bribery and three counts of graft filed against former Benguet Rep. Samuel Dangwa.
The three counts each of malversation, graft and direct bribery charges against former Cagayan de Oro Rep. Constantino Jaraula was raffled off to the First Division chaired by Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz, while the Second Division chaired by Associate Justice Teresita Diaz-Baldos will handle the five counts of malversation, five counts of graft and two counts of direct bribery cases filed against former Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza.
Napoles is co-accused in all the charges filed against the five former lawmakers.
"After the court has determined the divisions to handle these cases, they will now determine the existence of probable cause and issue the necessary arrest warrants if there is indeed probable cause to try them," Tang said after the raffle.
Plunder charges were filed against Valdez and Seachon-Lanete. Prosecutors accused Lanete of pocketing Php 108.405 million out of the Php 112.29 million PDAF appropriations received by her office between 2007 to 2009.
Her staff Jose Sumalpong, businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles and John Raymond De Asis were named co-accused in the plunder case as well as in the additional 11 counts of graft charges.
Napoles is already facing three other plunder charges and 42 graft cases at the Sandiganbayan after being named co-accused of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. and Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada.
Valdez, on the other hand, was indi,cted for plunder and seven counts of graft in relation to allegations of converting Php 57.79 million PDAF for his personal benefit out of the Php 95 million pork barrel funds channeled to his office from 2007 to 2009.
Napoles and de Asis were named his co-defendants in the plunder case while Budget Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and DBM staff Lalaine Paule, Rosario Nunez, and Marilou Bare were indicted in the graft cases, along with officials of Technology Resource Center, National Livelihood and Development Corp. and National Agri-Business Corp.
Former Reps. Samuel Dangwa (Benguet), Rodolfo Plaza (Agusan del Sur) and Constantino Jaraula (Cagayan de Oro City), meanwhile, are facing malversation and multiple counts of graft. (Sammy F. Martin, PNA)
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