Napoles kin, Malampaya scam defendants get discount on bail
The Sandiganbayan has reduced by 75 percent the bail that could be posted not just by the relatives of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, but by all of the 25 individuals charged in connection with the P900-million Malampaya fund scam.
In a minute resolution dated Dec. 15 and released on Wednesday, the court’s Third Division pared down to P50,000 and P7,500 the bail bond for each count of malversation through falsification and graft, which normally amounts to P200,000 and P30,000.
Instead of P22.31 million each in bail, all the accused would be allowed to post P5,577,500 for their temporary liberty while facing trial for 97 counts each for the two offenses, or 194 criminal charges all in all.
While the court said it was not playing down the cases, it found the need to reduce the bail so the right of the accused to temporary liberty would not be hindered by its hefty cost.
“The court, without underestimating the gravity and the number of the crimes herein charged, may exercise its discretion to fix or reduce the amount of bail based on the nature and the circumstances of the crimes charged to give substance and meaning to the constitutional right of the accused to bail,” read the resolution.
Although it was a substantial reduction, it was not as much as the 97-percent discount originally sought by siblings Jo Christine and James Christopher Napoles and their uncle Ronald Francisco Lim.
Their lawyer Romeo Villarta III argued that the three-fold rule—which caps the maximum sentence a convict may serve at thrice the length of his most severe penalty—should also be applied for the purposes of fixing bail.
By this argument, Lim and the Napoleses asked that bail be set at thrice the P200,000 bail for each count of malversation through falsification and P30,000 for graft, or a total of P690,000 each.
The court, however, said “the three-fold rule is not applicable to a petition for bail even by analogy.”
The catch of this resolution, however, is that the court found probable cause to pursue their trial and denied the plea of Lim and the Napoleses to put on hold the issuance of the warrant of arrest.
These developments were “applied to all the accused” including former Budget Secretary (now-Camarines Sur 1st District Rep.) Rolando Andaya Jr. and Agrarian Reform Secretary (now-Masiu, Lanao del Sur Mayor) Nasser Pangandaman.
The cases arose from the alleged diversion of the discretionary funds to ghost projects by 12 dubious foundations linked to Napoles.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.