Napoles wants arraignment moved to Laguna

Bea Cupin
(UPDATED) The alleged mastermind of the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam cites security and logistical concerns

SECURITY CONCERNS. A few hours before her arraignment before a Makati court September 23, Janet Lim Napoles files a motion to transfer the proceedings to Laguna, where she is detained. Graphic by Emil Mercado

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Citing security and logistical concerns, Janet Lim Napoles, alleged mastermind of the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam, filed an urgent motion before a Makati court Monday, September 23, to move her arraignment to Fort Sto Domingo in Sta Rosa, Laguna.

Napoles is scheduled to be arraigned Monday at 1:30 pm at Branch 150 of the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) for serious illegal detention charges.

As of 12:05 pm, Napoles has yet to leave her detention facility in Laguna.

In the motion, Napoles’ lawyers said her transfer from Laguna to the Makati RTC would “unnecessarily expose her life and security to grave and imminent danger.” Her lawyers say threats to Napoles’ life have heightened in light of plunder and malversation charges against her.

“The DOJ, almost daily, talks to the media to give publicity to these charges. It is not farfetched to expect that multitude of powerful and high profile politicians and personalities would become “better off” is Janet is silenced,” they said in the motion.

In an earlier interview with Rappler, Makati RTC Clerk of Court Diosfa Valencia said the arraignment will push through as planned unless the court cancels its own order.

Motions are typically heard every Friday at the Makati RTC. A Makati RTC Branch 150 branch staff member said that it will be up to presiding Judge Elmo Alameda to decide if he will hear the motion immediately.

IMMINENT DANGER. Napoles' lawyers argue that her transfer would leave her vulnerable to those who want her silenced. Photo by Rappler

‘Limited security’

They also mentioned “limited security facilities” of the Makati RTC, which is located inside the Makati City Hall. “At any opportune time, the tenuous security cordon in the said area could be easily breached if there are attempts to exterminate Janet,” the motion detailed.

In the past, Napoles had spoken about alleged threats to her life. Through her lawyers, she said this was one of the reasons why she chose to surrender to the president himself.

Napoles’ lawyers also argued her transfer would use government resources “that could otherwise be utilized for the delivery of government services.”

The Makati court received the urgent request via messenger at 10:50 am, hours before Napoles’ scheduled arraignment. – Rappler.com

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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.