Court junks plea of Napoles, brod

THE Court of Appeals has denied the petition of Janet Lim Napoles to overturn a Justice Department finding that she and her brother Reynald Lim be indicted for serious illegal detention of Benhur Luy, the main whistleblower in the pork barrel scam.

In a decision written by Associate Justice Ramon Garcia, the CA’s Special Third Division said they found no merit in Napoles’ petition.

The Justice Department issued its resolution Aug. 6, 2013, finding probable cause to charge her and her brother before the Makati regional trial court.

“This Court finds no compelling reason to reverse or modify the assailed ruling of the DOJ. There was no hint of whimsicality, no gross and patent abuse of discretion,” the decision said.

The appeals court said the prosecutors have been very detailed in their findings, where they enumerated the bases for filing the charges against Napoles and her brother.

The justices also said Napoles should have filed a motion for reconsideration with the Justice Department or seek a review by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima before going to the appellate court.

“She likewise failed to file the necessary pleadings before the regional trial court that issued the warrant of arrest to contest the same,” it said.

Napoles also failed to include in her petition important documents, such as the finding of the Makati court for the issuance of the arrest warrant against her, as well as the warrant itself.

Luy filed charges against Napoles and Lim, claiming they detained him from December 2012 to March 2013 to prevent him from spilling the beans about the pork barrel scam through which lawmakers allegedly channeled funds to bogus non-government organizations owned by Napoles in exchange for kickbacks.

Napoles claimed that Luy was brought to the Bahay San Jose Retreat House in Makati to undergo a spiritual retreat because he was “into some sort of drug addiction.”

Finding probable cause, Makati RTC Branch 150 Presiding Judge Elmo Alameda ordered the arrest of Napoles and her brother last year.

Napoles surrendered to President Benigno Aquino III at the Palace after several weeks of hiding and has since been detained at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, while her brother is still at large.

In the House, three lawmakers on Monday welcomed the Makati court’s decision to allow Napoles to undergo surgery for a uterine cyst at a government hospital.

In separate interviews with the Manila Standard, House Deputy Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna of Cibac, Ako-Bicol party-list Rodel Batocabe and 1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvetre Bello III said that Napoles, is accused of being the mastermind behind the P10 billion pork barrel scam, had a basic human right to medical treatment.

But Quezon City Rep. Jorge Banal, an administration ally, said that “the interest of the people has to be protected” and that no special treatment should be given to Napoles.

“Despite the horrendous charges and alleged actions of Napoles, she should be given the basic human right of right to treatment,” Tugna said, noting that the government’s action of allowing her to go to a hospital is legal and respectful of the constitutional principle of right to medical treatment.

Bello, a former Justice secretary, said it was fair for the government to allow Napoles to be treated of her illness.

Batocabe said that for as long as Napoles would shoulder all the expenses for her medical treatment, there is nothing wrong in allowing her to be confined at a hospital of her own choice.

But Alameda, in a resolution, denied Napoles’ request to be treated at a private hospital, and instead approved her operation and confinement at the state-owned Ospital ng Makati.

The court ordered Napoles to pay her medical expenses and the Region 4-A police to arrange her security and transfer from Laguna.    

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