Court rejects plea for bail, house arrest of pork barrel ‘queen’

THE SUPREME Court (SC) has denied a plea for bail or house arrest by a convicted plunderer who masterminded a multi-billion pork barrel scam in the early 2000.

In a Jan. 13 resolution made public on June 11, the high court rejected defendant Janet Lim-Napoles’s motion, as it ruled the law does not allow the release of convicted criminals just because they are at risk of getting a serious illness such as the coronavirus.

The defendant earlier said she is diabetic and is at risk of getting the coronavirus in prison.

“Neither the Nelson Mandela rules, the Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013 nor the worldwide trend to decongest jail facilities due to COVID-19 supports the release of prisoners pending the appeal of their conviction for a capital offense,” the high court said.

“Thus, Napoles failed to allege, much less prove, any source of right under international or domestic laws, to warrant her temporary release.”

The SC said the defendant is not entitled to bail, which is not applied to offenses punishable by death or life imprisonment when the evidence of guilt is strong.

The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan in 2018 found Ms. Napoles guilty of plunder, a capital offense, in connection with the P124 million pork barrel fund scam.

She is detained at the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago

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