MAKATI CITY – The Makati Regional Trial Court sentenced on April 14 suspected pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles to reclusion perpetua for illegally detaining whistle-blower Benhur Luy,
In a 26-page decision, Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda said based on the established facts and evidence, the penalty that may be imposed on the accused for the crime of serious illegal detention is reclusion perpetua, there being no aggravating or mitigating circumstance in the commission of the offense pursuant to Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code.
Napoles was found guilty as the complainant Luy suffered serious anxiety and fright as a result of his three-month detention.
“The court finds accused Janet Lim Napoles Guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal of the crime of serious illegal detention defined and penalized under Article 267, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code and her by sentence to her to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perputua. She is also directed to pay Benhur Luy the amount of P50,000 as civil indemnity and P50,000 as moral damages. The case against accused Reynold “Jojo” Lim, who is at-large is ordered archived,” the court ordered said.
Napoles, wearing yellow polo with shades arrived at the Makati RTC around 1: 30 p.m. She and her escorts left by past 2 p.m after the escorting police officers literally did not give mediamen covering the event a chance to interview as they immediately left in the 14th floor office of the RTC, which is located at the Makati City Hall.
Atty. Diosfa Valencia, Makati Clerk of Court, said that Napoles would remain detained at the female dormitory of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City until the court issues commitment order.
Napoles was supposed to have been immediately transferred to Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong City.
Gertrudes Luy, Benhur’s mother, who was present during the promulgation of sentence, welcomed the court decision, saying that there was still justice in the country.
“God is good. may hustisya pala sa Pilipinas,” teary-eyed Gertrudes told the reporters.
Atty. Bruce Rivera, Napoles lawyer, said they would file a motion for reconsideration on the decision.
“We can always appeal… at this point we are little bit of shock but we respect the decision of the court… pero kailangan namin i-draft ang susunod na hakbang but of course we are sad but that’s life,” Rivera said.
During the arraignment last Sept. 23, Napoles refused to enter a plea on the serious illegal detention charge against her.
Napoles and her brother, Reynald Lim, were accused of detaining Luy, their cousin and employee, for three months.
Luy was detained by Napoles after the businesswoman allegedly found out that the whistle-blower made a P5.5-million loan using her name without her knowledge.
The court found that Napoles detained Luy from December 2012 to March 2013 after they discovered that he was dabbling into the same business of Napoles.
Luy was later rescued by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at the posh Pacific Plaza Towers in Taguig owned by Napoles.
Napoles and Lim were ordered arrested last Aug. 14. The two went into hiding. Two weeks later, Napoles surrendered to President Benigno Aquino III, hours after he announced a P10-million reward for any information leading to her arrest.
After her surrender, Napoles was immediately turned over to the custody of the Philippine National Police (PNP) where she temporarily stayed in a secured room.
She was later transferred to the Makati City Jail and was also transferred to Fort Sto. Domingo in Santa Rosa, Laguna due to threats on her life.
Apart from the serious illegal detention case, she is also facing plunder charges in connection with the alleged pork barrel scam, implicating some lawmakers and other government officials.