‘Quantum of evidence’ proves conspiracy to detain Luy
JANET LIM-NAPOLES, the suspected brains behind the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam, was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of serious illegal detention of her cousin and trusted aide Benhur Luy.
Luy had blown the lid off the scam that resulted in detention and filing of charges against several high-ranking government officials, including three senators.
Judge Elmo Alameda of the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 150 sentenced Napoles to reclusion perpetua. She was also ordered to pay P50,000 in moral damages and another P50,000 in civil damages.
Her brother, Reynald “Jojo” Lim, her co-accused in the case, remains at large. His case was ordered archived and would be revived as soon as he gets arrested and presented to the court.
Napoles, who was accompanied by her lawyers led by Bruce Rivera, was attentively listening as clerk of court Diosfa Valencia read the 26-page decision in open court and later expressed surprise when the dispositive portion or the verdict was read.
Napoles’s camp was not surprised by the decision, saying it was “expected.”
“We have to accept the decision of the judge [although]of course we don’t agree [with it]but we have to plan our next step. We are sad but that’s it, that’s life,” Rivera said.
According to him, appealing the decision is their only “option.”
“There is no other option but to appeal because some of the factual statements there are a little bit questionable, so we want to question those facts,” he said.
Gertrudes Luy, Benhur’s mother, who also witnessed the promulgation of the case, welcomed the decision, saying there is still justice in the country.
“God is indeed good,” added Gertrudes, who became emotional after hearing the decision.
The court explained that under the law, the accused would be automatically transferred to Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong City (Metro Manila).
The court said there was a “quantum of evidence” that proves that Napoles and her brother conspired to detain Luy at Bahay San Jose in Magallanes Village, Makati City (Metro Manila).
“On the issue of whether or not conspiracy was established beyond reasonable doubt, the court finds that the prosecution was able to satisfy the required quantum of evidence that would produce the conviction of accused Janet on the basis of conspiracy,” the decision read.
“The discourse of Janet in her memorandum cannot be given any evidentiary value because she did not testify. Her arguments were not established by direct testimony. Her failure to testify prevented the prosecution from examining her to test her credibility,” Judge Alameda said.
Alameda added that while Luy was in detention, Napoles had “ample opportunity” to order his release.
“Clearly, she willingly agreed to be part of the conspiracy with her brother Jojo. Her inaction can be construed as assent to their evil deeds,” the decision read.
Case records show that Luy was detained from December 2012 to March 2013 after Napoles found out that he took a P5.5-million loan using her name and without her authorization. Napoles also accused Luy of stealing P300,000 that he was supposed to deposit to her account.
Luy, however, insisted that he was detained to stop him from exposing Napoles’ anomalous transactions,which include diversion of P10 billion from the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to ghost projects through non-existent organizations.
He was later rescued by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at Napoles’ condominium unit at the posh Pacific Plaza Towers in Taguig City (Metro Manila).
Napoles refused to enter a plea during her arraignment.
Luy initially revealed what he supposedly knows about the pork barrel scam while in NBI custody. His revelations resulted in a congressional inquiry where he came face to face with his estranged cousin and boss. Napoles consistently denied having a hand in the scam.
Napoles disappeared from public view after the serious illegal detention case was filed against her. Accompanied by her husband Jaime and then counsel Lorna Kapunan , she turned up in Malacañang and surrendered to President Benigno Aquino 3rd on August 28, 2013.
During hearings, Napoles did not take the stand to testify and instead submitted a memorandum to the court.
The court said the prosecution was able to establish that on December 19, 2012, Napoles ordered the detention of Luy when she discovered the existence of separate business transactions entered into by the complainant involving the pork barrel fund of certain legislators. Such transactions also supposedly resulted in decline of her income