Court erred in convicting Napoles in Luy’s illegal detention – SolGen

  • The Solicitor General has moved to acquit Napoles from the illegal detention case filed by Luy
  • SolGen Jose Calida believes the ‘pork barrel queen’ was wrongfully convicted
  • The PCIJ earlier revealed that the OSG has recommended for Napoles’ acquittal by filing a manifestation before the Court of Appeals

MANILA, Philippines – Defending his move to acquit alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles from the illegal detention case filed by cousin Benhur Luy, Solicitor General Jose Calida said he wants his office’s opinion on the matter be brought to the attention of the Court of Appeals (CA).

Earlier, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) revealed in an article by Malou Mangahas and Nancy C. Carvajal that the Office of Solicitor General (OSG) has filed a “manifestation in lieu of rejoinder” which recommends for Napoles’ acquittal from Luy’s illegal detention case.

The PCIJ also raised the question whether the Duterte administration has forged a ‘modus vivendi’ with Napoles, and if so, for what reasons and purposes?

Citing an opinion from a lawyer, the PCIJ said that while the OSG has earlier taken positions against the state, but often in minor cases, the Napoles’ case 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,” the lawyer said.

Wrongly convicted

Meanwhile, Calida insisted on his belief that the Makati Regional Trial Court has wrongly convicted Napoles.

“In Napoles case, it is my well-considered opinion and that of my assistants that the RTC erred in convicting Napoles,” said the SolGen.

“When we look at evidence, there are glaring instances which will support acquittal of the accused. It is my duty to state the facts. Persons involved here are immaterial to us. What’s important is justice should be done,” he added.

In the manifestation filed before the CA last January 20, a copy of which was obtained by PCIJ, the OSG said that after examining new evidence from both the prosecution and the defense, it finds that the evidence presented “does not support beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant committed the crime of serious illegal detention.”

Napoles was found guilty of illegal detention of Luy by Presiding Judge Elmo M. Alameda of the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 in April 2015 and was sentenced to life imprisonment.