THE Court of Appeals (CA) has nullified the conviction of Janet Lim-Napoles, suspected brains behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam, in the serious illegal detention case filed by her cousin, Benhur Luy.
Luy had accused her of detaining him in an upscale subdivision in Makati City to prevent him from spilling the beans on the pork barrel racket.
National Bureau of Investigation agents rescued him on March 22, 2013. He then spilled the beans on the pork barrel scam. But will his testimony now stand?
Solicitor General Jose Calida had submitted a manifestation recommending Napoles’s acquittal. The CA 12th Division ruled the testimonies of Luy and seven others were “inadequate to establish actual confinement or restraint.”
“No indubitable proof,” it said, that Luy was forcibly held by Napoles and her brother, Reynald Lim, her retreat house. Luy even attended the nightly mass in the retreat house from Dec. 19, 2012 to March 22, 2013.
No, it wasn’t a case of illegal detention, it was rather a case of holy detention.
A Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) sentenced Napoles up to 40 years in jail for illegally detaining Luy. That conviction is now behind her. But is Napoles now off the hook?
She is still facing a criminal case for plunder which is non-bailable. So she remains in jail.
But Sen. Francis Pangilinan is worried the pork barrel cases against Napoles would be placed in jeopardy following the CA ruling.
In a statement, Solicitor General Jose Calida said that as the principal lawyer of the republic, he believes “this is just a simple criminal case wherein the evidence does not support the conviction of the accused.”
Calida said “justice prevailed” in the CA, encapsulating the Latin maxim, “fiat ‘justitia ruat caelum’—Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”
Let’s hope this wouldn’t turn out to be, Let justice be done though the plunder cases crumble.