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Supreme Court junks Napoles plea for release
In a 13-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Mario Lopez, the SC’s Second Division denied Napoles’ urgent motion for bail or house arrest on humanitarian grounds due to COVID-19.
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Supreme Court junks Napoles plea for release

Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - June 17, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The appeal of convicted plunderer Janet Lim-Napoles to be granted bail, citing humanitarian reasons amid the pandemic, has been denied by the Supreme Court (SC).

In a 13-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Mario Lopez, the SC’s Second Division denied Napoles’ urgent motion for bail or house arrest on humanitarian grounds due to COVID-19.

Although promulgated last Jan. 13, it was publicly released only on June 11.

Napoles, who cited her suffering from diabetes, asked that she be temporarily released from detention at the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW).

But the SC said: “Napoles is not entitled to be released on recognizance which is merely an alternative form of bail. Republic Act No. 10389 (or Recognizance Act of 2012) provides that recognizance is available to those who are entitled to bail, but are unable to post bail due to abject poverty. However, it does not apply to those charged with offenses punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment when evidence of guilt is strong.”

“Here, Napoles never claimed that she was an indigent. Moreover, she was convicted of an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua. Clearly, RA No. 10389, does not apply to her,” it added.

The SC explained that granting bail after conviction is not absolute, but a matter of grave judicial discretion owing to the ascertainment of the accused’s guilt.

The high court pointed out that Napoles was convicted of plunder “which necessarily imports that the evidence of her guilt is strong.”

“Napoles failed to establish that there are exceptional and compelling considerations for her temporary release,” read the SC resolution.

The magistrates also did not find compelling reasons to justify the 57-year-old Napoles’ request for provisional release on “humanitarian grounds.”

“Be it noted, that the constitutional and statutory requisites for the grant of bail are neither suspended nor supplanted by the existence of a pandemic,” the Court said.

It added that “even assuming that she is indeed suffering from diabetes, that, in itself, is not sufficient to grant her provisional liberty, post conviction.”

One of the issues raised by Napoles was whether the Nelson Mandela Rules and the international community’s call for the temporary release of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) due to the threat of COVID-19, provide sufficient basis to grant bail post-conviction.

But the justices said that neither the Nelson Mandela Rules, the Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013, nor the worldwide trend to decongest jail facilities because of COVID-19, support the release of PDLs pending the appeal of their conviction of a capital offense.

On Dec. 7, 2018, the Sandiganbayan’s Special First Division convicted Napoles of plunder relative to the utilization of former senator Ramon Revilla Jr.’s priority development assistance fund and was sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.

JANET LIM NAPOLES SUPREME COURT
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