Janet Lim Napoles surrendered late Wednesday amid charges of serious illegal detention, a crime which, might keep her in prison for life if proven guilty.
Authorities have earlier launched a manhunt against Napoles and her brother, Reynald Lim, who allegedly detained whistleblower Benhur Luy.
Under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, a person found guilty of serious illegal detention “shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death…”
The Philippines currently doesn’t have death penalty.
The penal code defines illegal detention as “detaining another, or in any other manner depriving him of his liberty for at least five days “simulating public authority.”
Other components of the crime include “serious physical injuries,” “threats to kill him,” and if the person kidnapped is “minor, female or a public officer.”
Lawyer Theodore Te, who also heads the Supreme Court’s Public Information Office, in his Twitter account said Napoles can’t file bail.
“Napoles offense is non-bailable as a matter of right-serious illegal detention; Burden on [prosecution] to show strong [evidence] of guilt,” Te tweeted.
Napoles surrendered on the eve of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s investigation on the P10-billion scandal, which involves lawmakers.
Reports confirmed by the Commission on Audit claimed that senators and congressmen diverted their funds to NGOs led by Napoles.
Among those dragged into the controversy are Senators Bong Revilla, Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Bongbong Marcos and Gregorio Honasan.
Rumors have meanwhile been swirling that Napoles may be enlisted as a state witness to identify lawmakers involved in the scandal.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima earlier said the government is not ruling out the possibility of having Napoles on the witness stand.
In an interview over dzBB, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas also said Aquino considers Napoles an important “witness” in the pork controversy.