Bishops reject Napoles request for custody

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MANILA, July 8, 2014— The Catholic hierarchy on Tuesday rejected the request of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles for the bishops to take her under their custody.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president, said they will be violating Church and state laws if they will grant Napoles’ request.

The collegial body of the Philippine bishops gather twice in a year. (Photo: CBCP News)

“Existing Church laws do not allow an episcopal conference to stand as guarantor before civil courts that the accused will not abscond and will be available at every trial date,” he said.

“Furthermore, we are not sure that under civil law we are qualified for such a role as Ms. Napoles would wish us to assume,” Villegas said.

The archbishop also noted that heeding Napoles’ request for the CBCP to “take her under protective custody” would establish a precedent.

“Once we allow CBCP’s offices to take recognizance of Ms. Napoles, we must, to be fair, accept similar requests from all other accused,” Villegas added.

“Not only would this strain CBCP’s resources. It would render impossible the discharge of its principal functions,” he said.

Villegas, however, assured that they will continue to be vigilant that the rights of Napoles and the other accused are respected.

He also reiterated the CBCP’s call for the government to be “resolute and non-selective” in the indictment of offenders and in holding them accountable for all their actions.

Napoles is currently detained at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna for serious illegal detention charges.

Last May 12, Villegas visited Napoles at a hospital in Makati where she underwent a hysterectomy operation and urged her to tell the truth about the controversy.

According to him, the family of Napoles requested prayers and blessings for her fast recovery.

“As a priest, I went. But I told her the blessing will only give healing if she tells the whole truth without being selective,” Villegas said. (CBCPNews)

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