Napoles relatives seek P64.86-M bail discount from Sandiganbayan
A discount on bail?
It’s not unheard of, but three close relatives of Janet Lim-Napoles, allegedly the brains of the P10-billion pork barrel scam, are seeking a P64.86-million discount from the Sandiganbayan, citing their inability to raise the full amount of the bail.
The sheer number of counts of graft and malversation — a total of 194 criminal charges for each of the accused — has the two children and a brother of Napoles scrambling to seek a huge reduction in their bail in connection with the P900-million Malampaya fund scam.
The Office of the Ombudsman earlier recommended that bail be set at P30,000 for graft and P200,000 for malversation through falsification—P22.31 million for each of the accused, or a total of P66.93 million for the three relatives.
Jo Christine and James Christopher Napoles, and their uncle, Ronald Francisco Lim, have asked the Sandiganbayan to reduce their bail by 97 percent for their temporary liberty.
In an urgent motion, their lawyer, Romeo Villarta III, urged the antigraft court’s Third Division to allow the Napoles siblings and Lim to post a “nominal bail” of P690,000 each.
Lim and the Napoles siblings said the recommended amount was not only overwhelming but also disheartening.
“It has practically stripped any person presumed innocent of the constitutional right of temporary liberty,” their motion read.
“The recommended amount of bail for all of the accused has no other effect but to confiscate and practically bring both the accused to their knees even though bail itself is not intended as a punishment.”
The motion cited the ground of “financial ability” under Section 9, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.
It also invoked the “three-fold rule” under Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code, which provides that a convict cannot serve more than three-fold the length of the most severe penalty.
Defer arrest warrants
Applying that rule to bail, Lim and the Napoles siblings said they should be required to post only P690,000, or thrice the bail of P200,000 for each count of malversation through falsification and P30,000 for each count of graft.
Pending the resolution of this request, Lim and the Napoles siblings asked the court to defer the issuance of arrest warrants.
Prosecutors opposed the request in their comment, arguing that the accused failed to submit any supporting document.
The charges concerned the alleged diversion of royalties from the Malampaya gas fields off Palawan to ghost projects of dubious foundations linked to the elder Napoles in 2009.
The P900 million from the Malampaya fund, supposedly for victims of widespread flooding in 2009 in Luzon, went to ghost livelihood projects.
Lim and the Napoleses were accused of forging the request letters from the mayors of 97 municipalities and cities around Luzon.
Indicted public officials include two of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Cabinet members—Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. and Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman.
Pangandaman was accused of receiving commissions from Napoles through former Candaba, Pampanga, Mayor Rene Maglanque in exchange for making the requests for the release of the discretionary funds by the Department of Budget and Management.
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