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CA junks Napoles brod’s answer to illegal detention raps

By Edu Punay

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MANILA, Philippines - A brother and co-accused of Janet Lim-Napoles has failed to convince the Court of Appeals (CA) to void a resolution of the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicting him for the serious illegal detention of Benhur Luy and the Makati regional trial court’s arrest order against him.

In dismissing the petition of Reynald Lim, the CA 17th division said the affidavits of Luy and his immediate family, and agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are sufficient to establish a finding of probable cause for the issuance of an arrest warrant against Lim.

“Simply put, the issuance of the order finding probable cause for the arrest of the petitioner is a matter best left to the sound discretion of respondent Judge (Elmo) Alameda,” read the CA decision.

“And, unless the contrary is proven, the presumption of regularity in the performance prevails until it is overcome by clear and convincing evidence.”

Lim remains at large.

Records show the NBI rescued Luy last March 22 after he stayed more than three months in a condominium unit at Pacific Plaza Tower in Bonifacio Global City that Napoles owns.

The CA struck down as a mere “conjecture” the claim of Lim that Makati Judge Alameda acted with haste in issuing the arrest warrant and that he did not conduct a personal evaluation of the evidence presented.

“Significantly, it was only after a review of the proceedings before the prosecutor and the examination of the documents therein presented that respondent Judge Alameda made his conclusion that petitioner is probably guilty of the charge,” read the CA decision.

Since the judge is merely determining the probability, not the certainty, of guilt of petitioner, he is not required to do an in-depth study of the evidence presented, the CA added.

The CA also did not give weight to the claim of Lim’s counsels that he is a very sick man who can die anytime, and therefore should be entitled to an injunction against the implementation of the arrest warrant against him.

Associate Justice Noel Tijam wrote the decision. Associate Justices Romeo Barza and Ramon Cruz concurred.

Tax evasion vs Napoles, husband stays

At the DOJ, prosecutors rejected the joint counter-affidavit of Napoles and her husband Jaime denying the P61-million tax evasion charges that the Bureau of Internal Revenue had filed against them.

The investigating panel that Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Edna Valenzuela chairs returned the document to their lawyer over a technical flaw: it had not been duly subscribed before a public prosecutor as preliminary investigation rules require, as only a notary public had certified it.

“The only exception is when there is no prosecutor in the area of the respondents. But that’s not the case of the Napoles couple,” she said.

The Napoles couple’s lawyer Ian Encarnacion said he was not able to bring his clients to the DOJ due to the refusal of the jail warden of Fort Sto. Domingo to allow Napoles to attend the hearing.

He manifested with the panel to allow the Napoles couple to subscribe their joint counter-affidavit before the provincial prosecutor of Laguna.

The panel gave him until tomorrow, Friday to submit formal manifestation.

Valenzuela said the Napoles couple must submit a counter-affidavit or else the tax evasion complaint against them would be deemed submitted for resolution.

The BIR has accused the Napoles couple of a willful attempt to evade payment of tax for the years 2004, 2006, and from 2008 until 2012.

Janet Napoles was also charged with a deliberate failure to supply correct and accurate information in her Income Tax Return (ITR) for taxable years 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2009 and with willful failure to file her ITRs for taxable years 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Jaime Napoles was also charged for not supplying the correct and accurate information in his ITR for 2009 and for his failure to file his ITR for 2004, 2006, 2008, and from 2010 until 2012.

The same DOJ panel has been assigned to conduct a preliminary investigation on the P32.06-million tax evasion charges against the couple’s daughter Jeane.

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