SC justice applicant says Napoles did not commit illegal detention

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 04 2017 10:36 PM | Updated as of Jul 05 2017 12:28 AM

MANILA – A Court of Appeals associate justice who wants to be the next Supreme Court associate justice on Tuesday said alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles did not commit serious illegal detention against her former aide and relative, Benhur Luy.

Court of Appeals Associate Justice Samuel Gaerlan cited the acquittal of Janet Lim-Napoles as his most controversial case, although he said that he merely concurred in the decision. 

"Upon review, it appears to me, in my honest evaluation, no serious illegal detention was committed because the complainant, Mr. Luy, (was) free to go out, to contact his relatives outside while he was in Bahay San Jose," Gaerlan said in an interview with the Judicial and Bar Council.

He said it took him some time before giving his concurrence but maintained that it was based on his honest assessment that there was no case for serious illegal detention.

He added that based on testimonies of priests, Luy's actuations didn't show he was deprived of liberty. He said Luy was free to go out for dinner and never mentioned he was detained when he communicated with his family. 

In fact, Gaerlan said, Luy told NBI agents who came to rescue him that he was not kidnapped.

He added that he doesn't think Napoles' acquittal in the serious illegal detention case will affect the plunder cases she is facing before the Sandiganbayan.

Gaerlan holds a law degree from San Beda College and had been a trial court judge before joining the CA.

On the affirmation of the President’s declaration of martial rule, Gaerlan said there was sufficient factual basis for the declaration of martial law in Mindanao because of the presence of rebellion. 

However, he said Congress must still jointly convene, citing a statement in the case of Fortun v. GMA which said the joint convening of Congress is not only limited to revoking or extending martial law but also to affirm it.

As for the country’s switch to a federal form of government, Gaerlan said he understands the need for it but added that the country is not yet ready.

Twelve other candidates have been interviewed for the Supreme Court post to be vacated by Associate Justice Jose Mendoza in August.