Alleged pork barrel scam brains Janet Lim Napoles of the Philippines has been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. The charges however were not about the public fund controversy but rather regarding the illegal detention case filed against her by her estranged cousin and former chief aide Benhur Luy. Napoles was has been sentenced to reclusion perpetua or 40 years’ imprisonment by the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC).
Besides imposing the penalty of a 40-year jail term for the serious illegal detention charges, Makati City RTC Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda ordered Napoles to pay P50,000 in civil damages and P50,000 in moral damages.
The court said the prosecution provided strong evidence proving that Napoles and her brother Reynald Luy Lim detained Luy against his will between December 2012 to March 2013, until he was rescued by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents.
Luy claimed he was detained by the siblings to prevent him from revealing the anomalies allegedly perpetrated by Napoles in the misuse of the pork barrel allocation of lawmakers.
For over a decade, Luy admitted, he had been Napoles’ trusted right-hand man in the operations, but they supposedly had a falling out when she suspected him of setting up parallel operations using the same contacts in both houses of Congress and certain agencies.
Luy has since become the government’s main whistle-blower in the pork barrel scam cases, implicating three senators—Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada—and dozens of other incumbent and former state agency officials.
Reynald remains the subject of a manhunt operation by the authorities and was never arraigned for the charges. Despite the guilty verdict, Napoles’ camp remained unfazed, with her legal counsel saying they would immediately appeal the Makati RTC ruling before the Court of Appeals (CA).
Atty. Bruce Rivera said the Makati RTC apparently failed to appreciate the evidence they have presented, adding that they are confident the higher courts would see these and reverse the RTC’s decision.
“We will definitely appeal, since there are several points in the RTC decision that we do not agree with. There are many things there that for me are questionable,” Rivera said.
The lawyer said Napoles did not, to a certain degree, appear surprised by the guilty verdict, considering the public backlash generated by the pork barrel scam.
“She said it’s okay, maybe she also expected it because of the backlash,” he said, adding that Napoles insisted on her innocence of the crime imputed to her.