The Sandiganbayan reduced the bail that Janet Lim-Napoles’ children, brother and the other individuals charged in the Malampaya fund scam by 75 percent, bringing it down to P5.57 million instead of P22.31 million.
In a resolution dated December 15 and released on December 20, the anti-graft court’s Third Division reduced the bail bond for each count of malversation through falsification from P200,000 to P50,000 and the bail bond for each count of graft from P30,000 to P7,500.
The court said that the resolution was made to prevent hindering the right of the defendants to their temporary liberty with the hefty cost of the bail bond.
“The Court resolves to partially grant the said motion for the following reasons: (1) the Information in these cases […] are all bailable offenses that were filed and raffled together on December 1, 2017 and December 8, 2017, respectively,” read the resolution.
“[A]nd (2) while Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, pertaining to the three-fold rule is not applicable to a petition for bail even by analogy, the Court, without underestimating the gravity and the number of crimes herein charged, may exercise its discretion to fix or reduce the amount of bail based on the nature and circumstances of the crimes charged to give substance and meaning to the constitutional right of the accused to bail,” it further stated.
The reduction in the bail bond was 75 percent of the original amount, but it was not as much as the request made by Napoles’ children, Jo Christine and James Christopher, and her brother, Ronald Francisco, to have their bond reduced by over 3,000 percent to P690,000 each. They filed their motion on December 12, citing how the Ombudsman-recommended bail was punitive and excessive and deprives them of their right to post bail because they are financially incapable to do so. All three are facing 97 counts of graft and 97 counts of malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents.
The cases filed against Napoles’ children, brother, and other individuals are based on the alleged misuse of the P900 million of government income from the Malampaya natural gas project that was meant for to help farmers hit by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed the cases against Napoles and her family members, accusing them of conspiring with former Budget secretary and now Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., Lanao, former Agrarian Reform secretary and now Masiu, Lanao del Sur Mayor Nasser Pangandaman Jr., and five other ex-government officials of spending the Malampaya funds on bogus non-government organizations.
The netizens reacted to the court’s decision, with one asking if there is also a Christmas sale for bail bonds.
“Ano ‘to? Christmas sale? Discounted?” tweeted @HecklerForever.
Other netizens echoed his reaction.
“Ay may padiscount sa bail. Christmas discount ba ito? Iba din talaga. Kaya di natatakot ang mga bwusit na kurakot eh,” commented another netizen.