SOLICITOR General Jose Calida said Wednesday a Makati court erred in finding businesswoman Janet Napoles guilty of a serious illegal detention charge for detaining her cousin and former aide Benhur Luy.
"In the case of Napoles, it is my well-considered opinion as well as the opinion of my assistant solicitor generals and other solicitors down the chain that the Regional Trial Court erred in convicting the accused Janet Napoles for the crime under Article 267 or the Revised Penal Code," he said.
Napoles is also facing multiple charges in connection with the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of some lawmakers. She has been tagged as mastermind in the scheme.
The Office of the Solicitor General has filed a manifestation with the Court of Appeals (CA) on January 20 seeking for the dismissal of the Makati branch 150 decision dated April 2015 that had ordered Napoles to suffer the penalty reclusion perpetua of 20 to 40 years imprisonment.
According to Calida, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has found that the evidence of the prosecution against Napoles is weak to prove the latter's guilt.
Calida said that based on the evidence, Luy was not illegally detained at a retreat house in Makati from December 20, 2012 to March 23, 2013.
"Luy was in the retreat house for three months. He was using his cellphone. He could have communicated to anybody out there that he was illegally detained," he said.
Luy was also able to see his family thrice inside the retreat house and that he was also able to go out on a dinner with several priests, according to Calida.
Calida further said the National Bureau of Investigation agents who allegedly rescued Luy in their testimony said the latter was not physically restrained. Luy also resisted to be rescued and said he was not kidnapped.
The Solicitor General has also denied allegations that the President had ordered him to file a manifestation with the CA.
"The President has nothing to with this. President [Rodrigo] Duterte does not instruct his cabinet members what to do," Calida said.
According to the Solicitor General, the dismissal of the serious illegal detention case against Napoles will not affect the other cases filed against her for her alleged involvement in the PDAF scam.
He also clarified that they did not file a motion for the purpose of acquitting Napoles.
"We filed a manifestation to let the Court of Appeals know our opinion on the matter. It's up to the CA to assess the weight of our pleading," he said. (SunStar Philippines)
Like and follow SunStar Philippines on Facebook.