SC affirms dismissal of Napoles bail plea

MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday ruled in favor of the Sandiganbayan’s denial of the petition for bail filed by Janet Lim Napoles in connection with plunder and other cases filed against her over the multi-bililion peso pork barrel scam.

SC spokesman Theodore Te, in a briefing, announced the directive was issued following Tuesday’s regular en banc session of the magistrates.

The high court junked Napoles’ petition which sought to reverse the Sandigbayan’s decision dismissing her petition for bail for such cases.

The SC affirmed the assailed rulings of the third division of the anti-graft court in October 2015 and March 2016.

“The Court dismissed the petition questioning respondent Sandiganbayan’s October 16, 2015 and March 2, 2016 Resolutions in SB-14- CRM-0238 which had denied petitioner’s petition for bail on the ground that the evidence of guilt is strong. The Court found that the Sandiganbayan had not gravely abused its discretion in denying the petition,” Te said.

Napoles has previously filed several petitions before the SC seeking to stop her indictment in the PDAF cases, but these were all dismissed by the high court.

In her petition last July, the alleged brains of the multibillion-peso Priority Development Assistant Fund scam asked that she be granted bail in the plunder case against her and former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile before the third division of the anti-graft court.

She insisted that she should be allowed to post bail in this case – just like Enrile – because prosecutors “failed to present strong evidence.”

Petitioner stressed that the allegation that she and other accused accumulated or acquired ill-gotten wealth in the amount of at least PHP50 million should “fall into pieces as the amount of money pilfered cannot be exactly determined.”

Napoles also alleged that the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion in denying her earlier plea for bail.

Her camp earlier claimed that her acquittal by the Court of Appeals in the serious illegal detention case has destroyed the credibility of state witness Benhur Luy as witness in the pork barrel cases.

In August 2015, the SC granted the petition for bail of Enrile in the same plunder case with Napoles before the Sandiganbayan due to his “advanced age and poor health.”

The two other former senators indicted with Napoles in separate plunder cases before the anti-graft court – Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. – also filed bail petitions.

The Sandiganbayan special fifth division granted Estrada’s plea last September.