IF the government will continue to allow suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles to stay in her private jail inside Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, she should be made to pay for her stay, Senator Miriam Santiago said Friday.
Santiago, in her speech at De La Salle University’s First Business Law Conference in Manila City, said that as a detainee Napoles should observe a “pay-for-stay” program, so that the Philippine National Police can stop using public funds for her monthly expenses.
The government spends P5,000 a day or P150,000 a month “in guarding” Napoles at her private cell inside Fort Sto. Domingo which is very huge compared to the daily allowance the government is allotting to ordinary prisoner which is P54.00 a day or P1,612 a month.
According to Santiago President Benigno Aquino 3rd, should save public funds by compelling a detention prisoner like Napoles to make a choice between ordinary stay in jail at government expense, or stay in an enhanced facility at the prisoner’s own expense.
She said that scheme is not new in fact, some stated in the United States (US) like Texas, California, New York, Illinois, Tennessee, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, have implemented the “pay-for-stay” program.
Santiago said American courts have upheld “pay-for-stay” programs the most famous of the is the 2000 case of Tillman vs. Correctional Facility, decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals.
The senator said that in the Tillman case, the court made the following rulings in constitutional law: “Pay-for-Stay” does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment, so long as the inability to pay the fees did not affect the subject prisoner’s access to needed services; The program does not impose Excessive Fines, since the fees charged to the prisoner were not fines, but they were rehabilitative rather than punitive in nature; and that There was no denial of Due Process, because the American system provided a prisoner grievance procedure.
“Even if the prisoner’s constitutional rights may have been violated by the “pay-for-stay” program, still the court implied that the violation was outweighed by the state’s interest in sparing the taxpayers the cost of imprisonment,” Santiago explained.
Senator Francis Escudero has been asking for the transfer of Napoles to a regular jail for refusing to provide substantial information about the pork barrel scam.
Escudero said Napoles, who is also one of the respondents in the plunder compliant filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) before the Ombudsman in connection with the scam, should no longer be detained there because it is clear she is not in danger.
The Senator pointed out that if it is true that she knows nothing about the scam the businesswoman has nothing to fear and should be transferred to an ordinary jail and join the ordinary prisoners.
But Secretary Leila de lima, of the Department of Justice (DOJ) doesn’t agree with the suggestion and insisted that the government needs to ensure her safety in case the businesswoman decides to talk in the future. Jefferson Antiporda