Napoles set for arraignment

Bea Cupin

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(UPDATED) Janet Lim Napoles is charged with serious illegal detention

GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY? Janet Lim Napoles can face up to life imprisonment if found guilty. Graphic by Emil Mercado

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Almost a month after surrendering to President Benigno Aquino III, Janet Lim Napoles is scheduled to be arraigned at a Makati court at 1:30 pm on Monday, September 23, for serious illegal detention charges

Napoles and her brother, Reynald Lim, both face the charge because they allegedly hid cousin turned whistle-blower Benhur Luy from his family for over 3 months. Lim is still at large.  

If proven guilty, Napoles and Lim will face life imprisonment. 

Napoles’ filed a motion before Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 to request that her arraignment be held in Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta Rosa, Laguna, where she is currently detained, according to the Philippine Star

The court recieved the motion 10:50 am Monday, hours before Napoles’ arraignment is scheduled to begin. In an earlier interview with Rappler, Clerk of Court Diosfa Valencia said the arraignment will push through as planned unless the court cancels its own order.

At 12:15 pm, a convoy exited Fort Sto Domingo in Laguna. Another convoy left the camp 5 minutes later. It takes a little over an hour to travel from Laguna to Metro Manila. 

Napoles is said to be the alleged brains behind the pork barrel scam, wherein billions of lawmakers’ development funds were reportedly misused through dubious non-governmental organizations.

Early last week, Napoles was among those charged by the justice department in a plunder complaint filed with the Ombudsman. Luy is among the lead whistleblowers of the scam. 

READ: More pork barrel scam stories

Case an ‘irritant’

Napoles will be arraigned at the Makati RTC Branch 150, presided over by Judge Elmo Alameda. Napoles was originally scheduled to be arraigned on September 9, but motions from her camp moved the date to September 23. 

Kapunan calls the serious illegal detention case an “irritant,” saying it misleads the public into believing that Napoles is already charged in court in connection with the pork barrel scam. 

READ: TIMELINE: Janet Napoles from scandal to surrender

LAGUNA FORT. Janet Lim Napoles is currently detained in Fort Sto. Domingo, Laguna. Photo courtesy of the PNP-SAF

Police say “security preparations” are already in place, but would not expound on the logistics of Napoles’ transfer from Laguna to Makati. Valencia said police have also checked the court. Security personnel will also be assigned to Judge Alameda. 

Philippine National Police spokesman Police Senior Supt Wilben Mayor said Napoles will “definitely” be at the Makati RTC in time for her arraignment at 1:30 pm.  


Motion for bail 

Since Napoles’ surrender and detention, her lawyers have filed at least 5 motions before Judge Alameda’s sala.

Alameda has dismissed all 5 — a motion for him to inhibit from proceedings, a motion for bill of particulars, a motion to defer arraignment and suspend proceedings, another motion to defer arraignment, and a motion for reconsideration on his earlier decision on the bill of particulars. 

Napoles has one motion that has yet to be ruled on: an urgent motion for bail on grounds that the evidence against her is not strong. Serious illegal detention is a non-bailable offense. But under the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, an accused has the right to bail when evidence is not strong. 

READ: Marathon hearings next week on Napoles bail plea

Following Napoles’ petition for bail, it’s now the prosecution’s turn to show compelling evidence of Napoles’ guilt ahead of the trial proper. They will be presenting evidence and “at least 8” witnesses on Friday, September 27.

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.