2 Sandiganbayan divisions deny NBI jail transfer for Napoles
This is a developing story
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - The 1st and 3rd divisions of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan denied the request of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles to be transferred to the custodial center of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and instead ordered her moved to the regular Camp Bagong Diwa jail in Taguig.
No less than Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II supported Napoles' plea for a transfer to the NBI.
But on Monday, May 15, the court's 1st and 3rd division rejected this and granted the prosecution's motion to transfer Napoles from the Correctional Institute for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.
The court's 5th division, where Napoles also has a plunder case, has yet to resolve the issue. The 5th division is waiting for the prosecution to submit its comment, also due on Monday.
In the event that all 3 divisions rule that Napoles has to be transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa, 3 commitment orders will be issued which will be personally taken by the court sherriff to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
The 1st Division has already issued a commitment order, the order from the 3rd division is being drafted and expected before the court closes at 4:30pm.
Sandiganbayan Executive Clerk of Court Ma. Teresa Pabulayan says that the commitment orders issued can already be enforced, even pending the 5th division's.
In an open court hearing on Monday, 1st division justices said there was no evidence that Napoles will face danger in Camp Bagong Diwa. (READ: Where do PH judicial bodies stand in the Napoles case?)
Napoles' lawyer Stephen David had told the court that his client has been receiving "everyday threats" and that she would find her things scattered inside her detention cell.
David was not present during Monday's hearing to argue for Napoles' case to be transferred to NBI.
During 3rd division's hearing, division chair and Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje Tang told Napoles' lawyer that they failed to show proof that Napoles was indeed getting threats inside the correctional.
"Where are these threats coming from? How were this communicated to Napoles? Are you telling the court that that there was a breach inside CIW to enable someone to ransack her belongings?" Cabotaje-Tang asked Napoles' lawyer Romeo Villarta, to which the lawyer repeatedly answered 'I don't know, I was just told.'
The lawyer initially refused to identify himself to reporters and instead referred the media to a more senior lawyer in the firm, Dennis Buenaventura who also refused to give an interview.
According to Cabotaje-Tang, the NBI custodial center is not a jail and therefore Napoles cannot be transferred there because rules of court say that an accused should be detained either in a jail or a police station.
"Napoles has been detained at Camp Bagong Diwa before and there were no reports nor any manifestation from your end that she received threats there," Cabotaje-Tang said.
The Presiding Justice added: "It is not enough to allege that she has threats. Where is your evidence?"
Aguirre supports the NBI transfer and has already ordered them to check their facilities if they can accommodate Napoles. It is the Sandiganbayan that has the last say on where Napoles would be transferred. (READ: FACT CHECK: What can Aguirre's DOJ do in the Napoles case?) – Rappler.com