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CA clears Janet in Luy illegal detention case

Businesswoman Janet L. Napoles has been acquitted in connection with an illegal detention case filed by whistleblower Benhur Luy but would remain in jail because of several non-bailable cases involving the outlawed pork barrel funds.

The Court of Appeals (CA) yesterday reversed the 2015 decision of the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) and ordered her release from detention “unless she is confined for any other lawful cause.”

Napoles, however, won’t be released because of pending cases before Sandiganbayan.

In a text message, Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang said the commitment orders against Napoles stands “because they were issued in connection with the cases pending before the Sandiganbayan.”

Napoles is facing several charges before different divisions in the Sandiganbayan.

In acquitting Napoles, the CA ruled “that the evidence presented against the accused-appellant (Napoles) is not sufficient to establish her participation/culpability in the alleged criminal conspiracy.”

The CA decision was written by Associate Justice Normandie B. Pizarro. Associate Justices Samuel H. Gaerlan and Jhosep Y. Lopez concurred in the decision.

Napoles has been detained at the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong City on a life sentence imposed by the Makati City RTC for serious illegal detention.

Her brother and co-accused in the case, Reynaldo Lim, alias “Jojo,” is still at-large.

Meanwhile, Malacañang said Napoles is not yet off the hook despite the CA decision, saying it will still pursue the “strong” plunder cases against her.

“The Court of Appeals acquitting Ms. Janet Napoles involves her illegal detention case. It has no direct impact on her pork barrel cases,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.

“Government is clear that there is no policy shift on how we deal with Napoles. Neither there is an agreement forged between the Duterte administration and Napoles,” he added.

Abella also insisted the President would not meddle with the affairs of the two other branches of government out of respect of their independence.

“President Duterte has repeatedly asserted the independence of the three branches of government. He has vowed not to interfere with the decisions of the Judiciary or legislature, and assures the people that he will respect and not influence the results of their decision,” he said.

“The tri-partite separation of powers will be strictly observed under this administration,” he added.
(With reports from Czarina Nicole O. Ong and Genalyn D. Kabiling) (REY G. PANALIGAN)