TAXPAYERS bleed P5,000 a day or P150,000 a month to have alleged pork scam brains Janet Lim-Napoles secured in her private cell in Laguna, compared to the daily allowance allotted to an ordinary prisoner—P54 a day or P1,612 a month.
If the government will continues to allow her to stay in a private jail inside Fort Santo Domingo in Santa Rosa, Laguna, she should be made to pay for her stay, Sen. Miriam Santiago said on 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.
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 states 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 which is the 2000 case of Tillman v. Correctional Facility, decided by the US 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.
Sen. 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 complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation before the Ombudsman in connection with the scam, should no longer be detained there because it is clear she is not in danger.
The lawmaker 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 ordinary prisoners.
But Secretary Leila de Lima of the Department of Justice 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.