MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Seven days before the scheduled arraignment of Janet Lim-Napoles, the judge assigned to hear her case for serious illegal detention charges denied a motion asking to inhibit himself.
On Monday, September 2, Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda said the petition for him to excuse himself from the case lacks merit.
In his resolution, Judge Alameda said he “believes there is no just or valid reasons for him to inhibit at this stage of the proceeding.”
Napoles’ arraignment is scheduled on September 9. “The Presiding Judge likewise believes that he can still maintain the cold neutrality of an impartial judge,” he said.
Napoles is the alleged head of a multi-billion-peso scam involving the syphoning of lawmakers’ pork barrel through dubious NGOs.
Earlier, Napoles’ lawyers asked Judge Alameda to inhibit from the case, claiming that he “truly railroaded” the issuance of an arrest warrant against her and her brother.
The National Bureau of Investigation filed serious illegal detention charges against Napoles and her brother Reynald “Jojo” Lim after they allegedly held their cousin and long-time employee Benhur Luy.
The NBI rescued Luy in March after a 3-month detention. He is now a state witness in the pork barrel scam case being prepared by the government.
Napoles is detained at Fort Sto Domingo in Sta Rosa, Laguna. She surrendered to no less than President Aquino two weeks after Judge Alameda issued an arrest warrant against her and Lim.
In an earlier interview, Makati RTC Branch 150 Clerk of Court Diosfa Valencia said Napoles can still file a petition for bail despite serious illegal detention being a non-bailable charge.
She cited the case of Antionio Leviste, charged with the murder of his long-time aide, another non-bailable offense. Leviste, however, was allowed to post bail and was temporarily released in 2007. Leviste was tried by Judge Alameda in the same Makati court.
The Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure say that bail is the right of an accused, subject to certain exceptions.
“No person charged with a capital offense, or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, shall be admitted to bail when evidence of guilt is strong, regardless of the stage of the criminal prosecution,” says Section 7 under Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.
After Napoles surrendered to the President, the same court ordered her transfer from Camp Crame to the Makati city jail, then to Fort Sto. Domingo, following recommendations by the Makati city jail warden and the head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-National Capital Region of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Napoles is under the custody of the PNP Special Action Forces but is being detained according to the conventions of the Bureau of Jail Management of Penology. – Rappler.com