Gov’t junks plan to appeal Napoles acquittal in detention case
The government will no longer appeal the acquittal of alleged pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles in the serious illegal detention case, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Wednesday.
Speaking at the weekly Kapihan Sa Manila Bay at the Cafe Adriatico, Aguirre said he believed that the position taken by the Office of the Solicitor General Jose Calida is proper.
“Kapag nakita ng solicitor general na wala namang basehan ang detention, then it is his right to go for the dismissal of the case,” said Aguirre.
“I agree with the Solicitor General. I do not think there is enough evidence that he (Benhur Luy) was restrained. So how can a case for serious illegal detention proceed,” Aguirre asked.
The DOJ chief also defended Calida’s action of seeking Napoles’ acquittal, saying it is within his mandate.
“What SolGen Calida did was not extraordinary. Before I assumed my post as Secretary of Justice, the previous SolGens did the same thing before,” he explained.
With Napoles’ acquittal, Aguirre said she could now be transferred from the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong City to either the National Bureau of Investigation or the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
Napoles will have to remain in detention because of the pending and non-bailable plunder cases against her in the Sandiganbayan despite her acquittal in the serious illegal detention case.
In 2015, Napoles was sentenced to 40 years in prison by Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda for detaining Luy, her cousin and employee, from December 2012 to March 2013. Luy later exposed the pork barrel scam.
But in a 35-page decision penned by Associate Justice Normandie Pizarro, the CA’s 12th division granted the appeal filed by Napoles and reversed the verdict of the RTC.
The CA said the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the crime was committed. It said there was no indubitable proof that Luy was held against his will at the “Bahay ni San Jose” retreat house when Napoles’ brother Reynaldo “Jojo” Lim approached priests and suggested Luy’s spiritual renewal.