Miriam: Napoles must foot bill for jail stay

by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 14 2014 11:52 AM | Updated as of Mar 14 2014 10:35 PM

MANILA (UPDATED) - For Senator Miriam Santiago, Janet Napoles should foot the bill of her detention said to be costing government P150,000 a month.

Speaking at De La Salle University's 1st Business Law conference, Santiago urged President Aquino to implement a "pay-for-stay" program and have Napoles pay the expenses of her detention.

Santiago said she finds "no substantial reason" for government to pay for such a big amount especially since Napoles has "refused to cooperate" and has not given information about the pork barrel scam.

She said giving Napoles "special treatment" violates the equal protection clause that discriminates against other detention prisoners "facing criminal charges and denied the right to bail."

"Ang bigat ng demanda sa kanya. Ayaw naman magsalita. Pagkatapos ang laki-laki ng ginagastos ng gobyerno para lang sa kanya na hindi naman binibigay sa mga kamukha niyang detention prisoners," Santiago said.

She said that the President has legal basis to ask Napoles to pay for her detention.

She cited the President's ordinance power wherein he could issue a memorandum order, and his residual powers under the Administrative Code.

She also cited decisions by American courts that upheld "pay-for-stay" programs in certain states.

Speaking to reporters, Santiago said she is filing a resolution for the blue ribbon committee to look into and address what she said as loopholes of the law that allows Napoles to enjoy privileges while in detention.

"That is one loophole that I am referring to, the loophole that Napoles as person-in-interest or in other words a suspect in the stealing of 10 billion pesos of pork barrel funds is getting much better special treatment than the rest of the detention prisoners. Her alleged crime is much more horrendous than that of the ordinary detention prisoner who probably is in jail because he cannot post bail bond, is probably just being detained there for maybe pickpocketing or staging a holdup," she said.

"And here we have a woman who is implicated in [the stealing of] ten billion pesos of taxpayers' money and she is getting all these subsidy... What makes her so special?" 

Napoles is accused of setting up fake non-government organizations that served as conduits of so-called pork barrel funds of lawmakers.

The Commission on Audit said more than P2 billion in priority development assistance funds (PDAF) went to "ghost projects" or projects with underdeliveries set up by Napoles NGOs from 2007-2009.

A Makati Regional Trial Court judge earlier ordered Napoles' transfer to Fort Sto. Domingo for safety reasons. She is detained on a serious illegal detention charge filed by pork scam whistle-blower Benhur Luy.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has thumbed down calls to transfer Napoles to a regular jail facility, saying she still has expectations that the businesswoman would turn state witness.

"We are still hoping that Mrs. Napoles will tell all because she is the key to unlocking the whole truth if and when she decides to tell the truth," she said.

"We have expectations na baka magsalita nga at sayang ang pagkakataon. Maybe in the near future or while the case is in Sandiganbayan. Let's see if she is willing to talk," she added.