Lawmakers dismayed over Napoles acquittal
MANILA, Philippines – Several lawmakers were disappointed with the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) to acquit alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles in her serious illegal detention case.
Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, and Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao issued separate statements on Monday, May 8.
"The standard of justice under the Duterte administration has gone to the dogs. We are witnessing how big-time plunderers are being acquitted by the courts," said Villarin, an opposition lawmaker.
The CA 12th Division had reversed the 2015 conviction of Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150, which found Napoles guilty of holding former employee Benhur Luy against his will.
Casilao said the public should be "frustrated" by the CA's decision, as it could affect Napoles' pending plunder charges.
"We are concerned that this will affect the plunder charge faced by Napoles with regards to the pork barrel scam case," said Casilao.
"The public should not be frustrated by this, instead it should invigorate them to continuously expose and oppose this maneuver by those who are behind the pillage of government funds to evade accountability," he added.
Zarate echoed the same sentiments, urging Filipinos to remain vigilant.
"We must be very wary of this development because as things stand now many of those who have been charged of plundering the people's coffers are getting off the hook. Dapat na magbantay at sabayan ng protesta ng taong bayan ang mga pangyayaring ito (The people should remain vigilant and hold protests against these incidents)," he said.
Unlike the 3 lawmakers, however, Solicitor General Jose Calida welcomed the CA decision.
"The decision of the Court of Appeals encapsulates the Latin maxim fiat justitia ruat caelum. Let justice be done though the heavens fall," Calida said.
"I commend the magistrates of the 12th Division of the Court of Appeals for doing what is right based on the evidence before them,” he added. – Rappler.com