Sandigan OKs Napoles kin’s bail discount plea
The Sandiganbayan has granted the plea of Janet Lim Napoles’ three close family members to reduce their hefty P22-million bail in connection with the P900-million Malampaya fund scam.
In a resolution dated December 15 and obtained by INQUIRER.net on Wednesday, the Sandiganbayan Third Division chaired by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang partially granted the motion to reduce bail sought by Napoles’ children – Jo Christine and James Christopher, and their uncle, Ronald Francisco Lim.
Instead of paying the P22.3-million bail initially set by the anti-graft court for each of the accused, the three will just have to pay a total of P5,577,500 each—or a 75-percent discount—for their temporary liberty.
The court’s decision substantially reduced the family’s total bail amount from P66.9 million to P16.83 million. The court reduced the amount of bail from P30,000 to P7,500 for each count of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019; and from P200,000 to P50,000 for each count of malversation through falsification of public documents.
The three were charged with 97 counts of each violation, or a total of 194 criminal charges for each of the accused.
The accused initially asked the graft court to allow them to post a nominal bail of P690,000 each, citing their inability to pay the P22-million amount.
“The Court resolves to partially grant the said motion for the following reasons: (1) the Information in these cases […] are all bailable offenses that were filed and raffled together on December 1, 2017 and December 8, 2017, respectively,” the court stated in the resolution.
“[A]nd (2) while Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, pertaining to the three-fold rule is not applicable to a petition for bail even by analogy, the Court, without underestimating the gravity and the number of crimes herein charged, may exercise its discretion to fix or reduce the amount of bail based on the nature and circumstances of the crimes charged to give substance and meaning to the constitutional right of the accused to bail,” it added.
The Sandiganbayan, however, denied their petition to suspend the issuance of warrant of arrest against them, “considering the Court’s finding of probable cause” in the cases.
The P900 million from the Malampaya fund was supposedly for victims of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009 but allegedly went to ghost livelihood projects.
Lim and the Napoleses were accused of forging the request letters from the mayors of 97 municipalities and towns in 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. /kga
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