EVEN if the Sandiganbayan has allowed Janet Lim-Napoles and two lawmakers implicated in the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam to post bail, the businesswoman will remain in jail because she has been convicted of serious illegal detention, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
“It should be emphasized that Miss Napoles was convicted in April 2015 by the Makati Regional Trial Court for serious illegal detention. Accordingly, she cannot be released due to such conviction and the several other cases for plunder pending against her,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.
Napoles is serving a life term for illegally detaining her former employee, Benhur Luy, the principal witness in the PDAF or pork barrel scam.
Coloma said the Palace respects the anti-graft court’s decision, noting that the Sandiganbayan is a “separate branch of government under the judiciary.”
Some senators have expressed dismay over the Sandiganbayan decision allowing Napoles and former members of the House of Representatives Rizalina Seachon-Lanete and Edgar Valdez to post bail.
Sen. Grace Poe said while she is aware that the legislature and the executive should not
interfere with the decision of the judiciary, she believes that Napoles should not be granted bail.
“As one of those who participated in the Senate investigation of the PDAF controversy, I believe that it is not right to allow Napoles bail, because the evidence against her is strong,” Poe noted.
She said the pork barrel scam is one of the reasons why there is a need to review the justice system.
“If we can’t implement the law equally, it will give more courage to unscrupulous individuals to continue their unlawful acts,” Poe added.
Senator Teofisto Guingona 3rd said he remains optimistic that Napoles will not be able to get similar rulings in the other cases she is facing.
He pointed out that right to bail is not indicative of acquittal and appeals can still be made.
The senator said Napoles’ conviction by a lower court will ensure that she will not regain her freedom.