Move is eerily similar to how Imelda Marcos got her conviction reversed and escaped jail sentence
[NOTE: My thanks to Malou Mangahas and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism for allowing me and other media outlets to publish this.
Let me just say this. This legal move by the Duterte government on behalf of Janet Lim Napoles is EERILY SIMILAR to the way Imelda Marcos got herself acquitted from her conviction in the LRT corruption case. No less than President Fidel V. Ramos’ solicitor general at that time filed a manifestation before the court saying that the prosecution erred in telling the court that Imelda Marcos was guilty. I wrote about this in my book Marcos Martial Law: Never Again.
This time around, Duterte’s solicitor general has quietly told the court that the prosecution erred in the case of Janet Lim Napoles. Yes, change is indeed coming. We are reverting back in time. ]
By Malou Mangahas and Nancy C. Carvajal
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
THE SENATE is holding a hearing on yet another corruption case this week, but there may be a reversal of fortune of sorts for previous Senate “visitor” and so-called “pork-barrel queen” Janet Lim Napoles — courtesy of no less than the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).
Last Jan. 11, or just six months into the Duterte administration, the new crew at the OSG filed with the Court of Appeals a “manifestation in lieu of rejoinder” recommending the acquittal of Napoles for the crime of serious illegal detention of her second cousin, whistleblower Benhur Luy. Court documents obtained by PCIJ show that the appeals court received the manifestation on Jan. 20.
Luy is a state witness in the plunder cases against Napoles. On April 14, 2015, a Makati trial court convicted and sentenced Napoles to reclusion perpetua or 40 years in jail for forcibly detaining Luy first in a retreat house and then in her own home from December 2012 to March 2013.
Then President Benigno S. Aquino III meanwhile put up a P5-million bounty for the capture of Napoles’s brother and co-respondent in the case, Reynaldo ‘Jojo’ Lim.
Napoles is now serving her life sentence at the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City, while her brother Jojo Lim remains at large.
Accused vs state witness
Luy, who was employed in Napoles’s JLN Group of Companies, had testified that Napoles and Lim had detained him in two places to prevent him from revealing to authorities how she used bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to get billions of pesos of pork-barrel funds from dozens of lawmakers, for fake projects. Napoles, however, has always maintained that she had not had him kidnapped.
Three former senators are now facing plunder charges for the alleged misuse of their pork-barrel funds using the fake NGOs of Napoles as beneficiaries, supposedly in exchange for fat kickbacks. A special audit report on the pork barrel disbursed from 2007 to 2009 that the Commission on Audit (COA) released in August 2013 also indicates that at least a hundred former and current members of the House of Representatives may have abused the system and received kickbacks from Napoles.
The discovery of the supposed collusion between Napoles and her bogus NGOs and many lawmakers to defraud the government of taxpayers’ money even led the Supreme Court in November 2013 to declare as unconstitutional the allocation of pork-barrel monies to legislators.
Five legal experts inside and outside government were queried separately by PCIJ on the OSG’s manifestation regarding Napoles’s illegal-detention case. Speaking on condition of anonymity, they agreed that while it may not for now have a direct impact on the pork-barrel cases pending before the Sandiganbayan, questions might be raised about the integrity of Benhur Luy’s testimonies in the illegal detention case, and against Napoles.
The question of common concern to the five lawyers interviewed by PCIJ is this: Has the Duterte administration forged a modus vivendi with Janet Lim Napoles, and for what reasons and purposes?
The five lawyers are also unanimous about one thing: They say the OSG’s manifestation heralds a policy shift in how the Duterte administration wants to deal with Napoles, Luy, other state witnesses, and the lawmakers who had been indicted in the plunder cases involving the misuse of pork-barrel funds now pending trial before the Sandiganbayan.
Commented one of the lawyers: “The SolGen has taken positions before against the state, but often in minor cases, criminal and civil. This one is unusual because the SolGen has taken the side of the appellant, and against state witnesses in the pork barrel cases. This makes the SolGen manifestation significant. Most judges tend to favor the SolGen in cases like this one.”
Curiously, though, relevant senior officials in the Office of the Ombudsman, the Supreme Court, and the Office of the Executive Secretary expressed surprise when asked by PCIJ if they had previous knowledge about the OSG’s manifestation regarding Napoles’s illegal-detention case. All said they knew nothing about it and separately described the move of the OSG under Duterte as “dangerous,” “alarming,” and “shocking.”
Solicitor General Jose C. Calida, Assistant Solicitor General Henry S. Angeles, and Associate Solicitor Armand V. Morales had submitted the manifestation to the Court of Appeals. Calida’s signature does not appear in the document, but government lawyers say it is impossible for Calida not to know about the manifestation. Angeles is also currently serving as Calida’s chief of staff.
‘No liberty deprived’
The OSG’s 10-page manifestation dated Jan. 11, 2017 was apparently triggered by a “reply brief” from Napoles dated Sept. 20, 2016 — or barely four months earlier — where “the appellant reiterated her argument that the essential element of deprivation of liberty is absent and wanting in this case.”
“After examining anew the evidence presented by both the prosecution and defense,” the manifestation said, “the OSG finds that the evidence presented does not support beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant committed the crime of serious illegal detention.”
It also explained why the Solicitor General was now disfavoring state witness Luy in the illegal detention case.
“At this juncture,” the OSG said in the manifestation, “it may be significant to point out that the Solicitor General shares in the task and responsibility of dispensing justice and resolving disputes. He is similarly a servant of the law, the two-fold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or the innocent suffer (sic).”
It continued, “And while the OSG is, by law, constituted the law office of the Government whose specific powers and functions include that of representing the Republic and/or the people, it is not prevented from taking a position adverse to that of its clients, the People of the Philippines included, whenever it finds the contention of the adverse party or an accused tenable.”
The OSG also cited the Supreme Court’s ruling in one case, Orbos vs. CSC, noting that “this is not the first time that the Solicitor General has taken a position against his clients, like the CSC, the National Labor Relations Commission, and even the People of the Philippines… the Solicitor General has recommended the acquittal of the accused in the appealed criminal cases.”
Filed, refiled by DOJ
Presiding Judge Elmo M. Alameda of the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 had sentenced Napoles on April 14, 2015 to life in jail after a two-year trial. Napoles later raised her case to the 13th Division of the Court of Appeals soon and submitted her reply brief on September 20, 2016. In less than four months, the OSG – which receives on average of about 30,000 appeals on criminal cases a year — filed its “manifestation in lieu of rejoinder” recommending her acquittal.
Among other things, the OSG noted in its manifestation that on June 10, 2013 a special panel of prosecutors from the Department of Justice (DOJ) had recommended the dismissal of the Luy’s complaint. The panel, after two months of investigation, reportedly found that Luy had “voluntarily stayed” at the priests’ retreat house.
Judge Alameda, in his ruling on the case, had said the prosecution was able to establish that Napoles ordered Luy’s detention when she discovered that he had started to transact business with certain lawmakers using her business model.
According to Luy, Napoles and her brother Reynaldo had kept him at Bahay ni San Jose, a Catholic retreat house in Magallanes Village, Makati City, occupied by priests, and then at the Pacific Plaza Towers in Taguig City, where the Napoles family resides.
Luy’s rescue by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation Special Task Force (NBI-STF) from Napoles’s posh residence in Taguig in March 2013 paved the way for an investigation of the use of fake NGOs as beneficiaries of the pork-barrel funds of certain legislators.
The NBI and Luy filed a serious illegal detention case against Napoles and Lim in March 2013, but as the OSG pointed out in its recent manifestation, a DOJ panel dismissed it three months later. The NBI then filed a motion for reconsideration, which had the DOJ refiling on Aug. 13, 2013 the case of serious illegal detention against Napoles and Lim. This in turn prompted the issuance of warrants of arrest against the two.
But in its manifestation for Napoles’s acquittal in the serious illegal detention case filed by Benhur Luy, the OSG said, “The conduct and behavior of Benhur Luy during the period of his alleged detention belie the fact that he was detained or deprived of his liberty, contrary to the findings of the trial court in its April 14, 2015 decision.”
The OSG manifestation gave weight to the testimony of a priest identified as Fr. Peter Edward Lavin, who on Oct. 30, 2013 had said in court that Luy had never hinted or mentioned that he was being restrained or deprived of his liberty.
The OSG also cited the sworn statements of two security personnel of the condominium building of Napoles where Luy was rescued by NBI-STF agents that Luy had supposedly shouted at his brother that he had not been kidnapped.
As additional ground for Napoles’s acquittal, the OSG noted the statement of the NBI-STF team leader that Luy was not physically restrained when they came looking for him, and that Lim was not armed or accompanied by bodyguards during the rescue operation.
The OSG argued as well that the building’s CCTV footages lent incontrovertible support to the testimonies of these witnesses.
DU30 on Napoles
Interestingly, just weeks before Napoles’s lawyers filed her “reply brief” in September 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte himself had brought up the notorious businesswoman’s case at a press conference in Davao City.
In his hometown on Aug. 21, 2016, Duterte told the media there that while some lawmakers had been indicted in the Napoles-led pork-barrel scam in 2013, it was “not enough vindication for the Filipino people.”
“I would now raise again the Napoles issue,” media reports quoted the President as saying. “There are a lot of billions and billions of pesos lost. We have been able just only to put several lawmakers inside but only because the charge, the accusation is non-bailable.”
“Let us revisit the Napoles case,” Duterte said. “I have some revealing things to tell you about it. You just wait, but I will…if that is the only thing that I have to do until the end of my term, I will do it, for I shall have done a singular task, giving you the truth about the government.”
“The Napoles case should deserve a second look,” Duterte said, “for it also involves corruption and (Senator Leila) de Lima.”
Impact on pork cases?
For sure, the OSG is now giving the case more than a glance. Referring to the OSG’s manifestation, one of the legal experts queried by PCIJ remarked, “This is dangerous because of the indirect impact on (pending) pork cases, especially since Benhur talked because he was supposedly being detained illegally. This is not enough, of course, to set Napoles free, but doubt has been cast on the credibility of Benhur. Still, the illegal detention happened after Benhur acquired info on the pork transactions, so he can insist on his credibility about these matters. The problem is, public perception could turn against him because of this manifestation.”
A lawyer who had been part of the COA special audit team on the PDAF cases agreed with this view, noting, “Benhur gave a lot of documents kasi. Certainly, the indirect impact of this is to question his credibility, and that of the other witnesses. That might be the point of this manifestation.”
Still, the lawyer said, “A manifestation, from a lawyer’s point of view, does not always overturn or affect the court’s decision. This can be appealed to the (Supreme Court).”
Yet another lawyer – a government prosecutor – predicted that even with the manifestation, “(Napoles) stays in jail for the pork cases.”
The prosecutor added, “There was a time she wanted to tell all na. Maybe that is the modus vivendi, for her to tell all on politicians they (administration) don’t like.” — PCIJ, February 2017
Something definitely is being cooked here. Facts and things to watch out:
1. Sol-Gen Calida is a staunch supporter of the coalition AlDuB – Alyansang Duterte-Bongbong
2. Supreme Court finding Bongbong Marcos election complaint sufficient in form and substance
3. We are several months away from the lifting of the ban on election losers. Bongbong’s name has been floated to the position of Secretary of DILG
4. Of course we already know about the burial of FM in LNMB
Sabi ni Ping Lacson sa huling Senate hearing, ang isang magaling na police investigator daw ay dapat madumi mag isip.
Ito ang bunga ng aking maduming pag iisip.
1. What if Calida/Duterte had struck a deal with the camp of Janet Napoles? It is interesting to note that both Bongbong Marcos and Alan Peter Cayetano were named by Napoles as those who benefited from the PDAF scam. sabi nga ni Alan Peter Cayetano kahapon ay ” This government wont do anything without a strategy. Paano kung ang strategy ay ilaglag si Cayetano para ilutang nang husto si Bongbong. I dont think this two will work well together in a Duterte administration.
Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr
Agent: Catherine Mae “Maya” Santos
Napoles said Santos approached her to offer projects from Marcos’ office. “I did not directly talk to or know Senator Marcos.”
Napoles said according to Santos, she (Santos) was the one tasked to oversee the senator’s projects and funds. Santos supposedly asked for 50% for each project she could give Napoles.
“Minsan niyang sinabi na pinag-iinitan siya ng mga tao sa opisina dahil nagdududa na sila na kumikita siya ng malaki sa mga pondong kanyang hawak.” (She at one point said the people in their office had started suspecting her of earning a lot from the funds she handles.)
Napoles added that Santos asked her help to buy a lot for a house. Santos also supposedly asked her for money to pay a contractor of a house because Santos did not want the ownership of the house to be traced. The house and lot were supposedly under the name of Santos’ children.
“Aside from this, Santos also said she has various properties like a vast land in Tanay and a house in San Diego, California that she named under her child.”
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano
Agent: A certain Tito Boy, whom Napoles described as Cayetano’s uncle
Napoles said Cayetano’s uncle “Boy” became an agent for a DOTC project when Cayetano was still a congressman. “The project did not push through because we did not reach an agreement about the rebate.”
“The rebate they were asking for was bigger than what I could give so the advanced money that was given to Tito Boy was returned. When I got the money returned, it was not complete.”
In a separate list under “no agents,” Napoles said she gave money for the campaign of Cayetano in the last election. “We met in Slice restaurant in Bonifacio Global City. I personally handed the money to him.”
2. Curiously, it has been floated in the media that Duterte did seek some medical attention recently in China. Umamin pa nga syang gumagamit ng Fentanyl. And just this week, mukhang hindi visible sa mga activity nya si Duterte. By coincidence, kasabay naman lumutang ulit yung issue ng bank account ni Duterte courtesy of Sen. Trillanes.
3. And now, this curious coincidence na sabay na araw lumabas yung decision ng PET dun naman sa opinion ni Calida on Janet Napoles case although nung January pa pala ito.
4. Umamin din si Duterte a few months ago that Imee Marcos contributed heavily on his Presidential run.
At dahil nga sa saksakan ng dumi ang isip ko, what if, the grand design is,
1. Janet Napoles to pin down Cayetano sa PDAF scam, and absolve Bongbong Marcos
2. Bongbong Marcos takes the VP seat courtesy of the PET
3. Once Bongbong is VP, Duterte would malinger and say he is no longer fit to be President
4. Bongbong takes over and convenes a Constitutional Assembly where our form of government takes a Federal Form.
Pasenya na sa sobrang dumi ng utak ko. Nasobrahan na yata. Pasensya na sa hindi ma entertain or matuwa sa post ko. Miss ko lang si Parekoy. Sya ang expert dito. Hahaha. Huy Parekoy, san ka na, baka na tokhang ka na ha. Paramdam ka naman :)
Thanks for making me recall the events.
may punto ka ml baby.
imo, ang iniisip mo ay hindi marumi.
iyan ay ilan sa mga posibleng maganap.
namumurong manumbalik ang dark era.
nakalambong na at ang kulang na lang ay patayin ang liwanag.
kumakatok na sa dingding.
sa pintuan na ang susunod.
siguro, the only way bong marcos and cayetano can work together is when cayetano gives bong marcos the upper hand and be bong’s errand boy. cayetano will do almost anything just to be near power. seen but rarely heard now and having cast his lot, cayetano swallowed both his honor and pride. the great swallower.
I hope if there is recount, bong marcos does not make the grade. he is still short on numbers.
he, he, he, kinabahan ako, abi nako martial law baby meant maruming isip as in dirty mind. harry roque comes to my mind with his ‘dirty” and highly sexualized questioning of ronnie dayan.
anyhow, a good cop thinks like a detective, not only marumi (dirty) ang isip, kundi masama (bad) rin, and all for a good reason. a good cop never crosses the line. he/she stays in the side of good.
ang sama ng isip mo, martial, thank the lord! probing mind meron ka.
Maybe this link will help –
to do away the OSG Manifestation as it is infestation alright.
Two punches knocks me down…he he he
solgen is bluffing. lawyers do that all the time. sometimes, they win, sometimes they lose.
anyhow, fr peter lavin as witness is medyo dicey. naturally, pro napoles siya dahil patron si napoles ang simbahang katolica, sagot ni napoles ang gastos ni dating mons ramirez who resided in one of napoles’ mansion. kaya, anti luy ang fr lavin na ito, and did it with a smile, his hand on the bible pa.
ganon din yong dalawang witnesses na sekyus na empleyado ni napoles, they must have been brief told what to say. surely, they would not make make napoles appear in bad light, else they lose their jobs.
as for lim not accompanied by guards and was not armed kuno at the time of luy’s rescue, there was no need for guards to be with lim, they were manning the exits and entrances at may mga walkie talkie sila, and could, would swarm in at luy at a moment’s notice. besides guards were manning cctv, they would know where luy is at all times of the day and night. so really, there was no need to restrain luy. he was on constant surveillance, one wrong move and luy would be mince meat.
kaso, luy did manage to make a slight move. and the rest is history.
also, napoles and lim at ang mga tauhan nila could easily track luy’s whereabouts through luy’s cellphone.
being physically retrained, old fashion yan. electronic surveillance is the go these days.
also, also, we dont really know kung may bug o listening device ang kuarto ni luy. knowing napoles and how rich she is and with her contact with people in the know, it would be very easy for her to bug luy. she can afford the best gizmo there is.
and if luy was indeed physically restrained, luy would not be so cooperative and napoles would have hard time convincing him of her benevolence. best to put something like nanny cam in luy’s room where they can observed luy without him knowing.
even prisoners are not physically restrained. they’re free to go around prison compound, to the library, kitchen, etc. and some are even allowed to congregate and dance like the inmates in cebu.
it would be hard had luy been physically restrained. someone would have to wipe his bottom each time he uses the toilet, or hold his dick so he can piss, and then wipe it dry. he would have to have punas too, since he cannot take shower habang may tali. someone would have to soap him up and hilud him, also brush his teeth, comb his hair and tie his shoes. cumbersome masyado yan. physical restrained in a sense that luy was being followed and not allowed to leave the compound. there are armed guards around.
yes bduts promised to rid of corrupts.
to rid from jail pala.
hahaha, congrats sa 16+M.
yes, tagumpay sila, the change they so wanted is here! staring them all in the face.
biro mo, yong dating nag-sit in at nag- roadblock (sorry po, I forgot the name of the place where the sit in took place) got a sako of bigas each from robin padilla with promises that all will be well in the future under digong’s leadership. and now, those nasalanta ng lindol sa surigao city got no sako of bigas from either digong, or robin padilla. just promises na surigao will be rebuild kuno, maybe in 100 yrs time surigao will be rebuild, the money is just not there. buti pa yong mga consultants sa piss talks that started in norway, then over to holland, and then, sa italy. may malaking pundo sila. aba, nagbakasyon ng tudo ang mga consultants. libre kasi, sagot ni digong ang gastos nila.
forgot to add that dswd and some private firms are helping those nasalanta ng lindol. but more help is needed.
The previous administration welcomed state witnesses. This administration seems to only welcome state owned witnesses.
It has become increasingly clear that much of the Judicial & Legislative branches (and quite a few even in the Executive) had zero or close to zero interest in the Aquino anti-corruption drive…going along to get along only because of Noy’s popularity. Since Du30’s election, truer colors have been shown. Especially with the added temptation of getting a seat at the Con-Ass table. (I have assumed that “party membership” w/r/t the death penalty vote is code for that same seat at the table.)
Du30’s psychopathic drive vs. De Lima is also being pressed into service. This is the nature of irrational obsession. What “won’t* Du30 do to destroy his prey? Is he willing to destroy the entire gov’t? On second thought, that may well be his goal.
Meanwhile, I wait w/ bated breath to see if the tripartite balance of powers has any chance of escaping. Rewarding the crooks is bad enough. Persecuting & killing is even worse–but destruction of the Constitutional separation of powers will render it permanent.
One thing we learned from the Marcos era is that dictatorships, once established, can only be ended by revolution. And there are no guarantees that the next one will be bloodless. But revolution or not, bloodless or not, the poor will suffer most. As always.
Interesting read …the sol-gen and the lawyer of Napoles are both Duterte supporters..
By the way where are Baycas and Rene Ipil?
I’m just happy leona is still here. others have decamped, mga tauhan na sila ni digong. the bulk of the money is with digong now. so, naturally, duon sila. more money, more influence, better job offers, etc. good enough incentives to change sides. apparently, you cant bank on morals, ethics is not as good as having multi millions pesos in the bank, he, he, he.
I’m dumb, kaya I stay as before, and still here because I like the company. my needs are few.
if this is treason, solgen is making the most of it. many can play that game: be whisperer to digong too. so it was suggest that napoles be freed, maybe others should also suggest and whisper to digong that napoles should not be freed dahil baog na yan, he, he, he.
seriously, it ought to be suggested to digong that napoles is better off in jail, she’s safer there, free food, free accommodation and is in good company of like minded ladies. once she was queen with money in her bathtub, now she is cleaning prison wards, humblier. punished for stealing and diverting porkies.
suggestion vs suggestion, that is the question. and in the fulcrum is digong weighing which way the pendulum swings. folks, dont just sit and watch others suggest something to digong. join in the suggestion, jump the queue if you have too. who dares win. who knows? you might get heard and your suggestion gets through.
just dont let others have suggestion monopoly. join in and see how you go. no harm in trying. if you failed, try again.
oh, and dont be shy. put your best foot forward. make sure you wear steel capped shoes for there will be lot of pushing and shoving.
know when is best time to ambush digong with suggestion? he’s often surrounded by sharks, but there are moments he’s vulnerable. time enough to let fly with suggestion.
arc . . . baycas and rene ipil must know somethin’ we don’t. . .
a reply as short as 9 words. . . in Moderation pa rin!
Mali ang name ko pala !
Mmmmmmmmmmmmm… Baycas…..Abella….Rene Ipil……Panelo?
tingale karon sila si baycas ug si rene ipil are both licking thier wounds! padre, nais kung mangumpisal, akoy nagkasala . . . he, he, he. love you, leona. merde!
john c. jacinto says
What is obvious about this legal move of the OSG is that they are siding with a mega-thief instead of pinning her down for good. Calida’s office would not have done this without the imprimatur of Duterte, considering the high-profile nature of the case and the convict. In all likelihood, this is laying the foundation to impugn the character and credibility of Luy in the PDAF cases so that Duterte’s promise to the accused senators and other politicians will have a good chance of being fulfilled i.e. the accused get freed on bail or eventually exonerated.
Nauna na si JPE and if Napoles is set free Pogi and Sexy are next.
Hail, hail, the gang’s all here,
Never mind the weather, here we are together.
Interesting ‘MANIFESTATION’ by OSG.
Will this be an ‘infestation’ of the rule of law in the Napoles case?
Will OSG present objective, demonstrative and/or testimonial evidence in this case where conviction was supported by the stated evidences?
Could a ‘Motion For New Trial’ under the rules rather than ‘MANIFESTATON’ be the right move by the OSG?
Is it true enough that this latter move is to save some lawmakers involved in the Napoles’ case?
Dangerous dirty times ahead! Infestation grows in the legal justice system.
Again, another try to see