Court asked to transfer Revilla, Estrada, Napoles to BJMP facility

Buena Bernal
Court asked to transfer Revilla, Estrada, Napoles to BJMP facility
Their continued detention at the PNP Custodial Center smacks of special treatment, according to prosecutors

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Ombudsman prosecutors on Monday, July 14, asked the Sandiganbayan 1st division to order the transfer of indicted plunderer and opposition senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, his aide Richard Cambe, and alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.

They apparently took the cue from an earlier decision of another court division – the 3rd – to commit lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, also accused in the pork barrel scam, to a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) facility in Quezon City. 

Prosecutors argued that the continued detention of Revilla and Cambe at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center, as well as Napoles’ at Fort Sto Domingo in Laguna, is without legal basis.

As for Napoles, they said “Fort Sto. Domingo is clearly not a detention facility for an accused facing trial.”

They insisted that the BJMP is the “government agency mandated to control and administer the safekeeping of such inmates.”

Transfer Estrada, too

Hours later, and citing the same arguments, a separate panel of prosecutors likewise filed a motion to have Senator Jinggoy Estrada transferred to the BJMP facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, or other BJMP-run jails.

In their motion concering Revilla, Napoles and Cambe, the prosecutors explained: “The four-room bungalow where Revilla and Cambe are being held was originally built as a barracks for officials of the Custodial Service Unit of the Philippine National Police. Hence, it is not a detention facility.”

The prosecutors said that the detention of Revilla, Cambe, and Napoles in these facilities affords them special treatment. “Aside from its lack of legal basis, the continued detention of accused at their present locations affords them special treatment as they are subjected to different rules and procedure not afforded to all other detention prisoners under BJMP control,” their motion read.

They added that this “creates a negative image of the country’s court and justice system.”

“It casts doubt on the government’s capacity to afford equal protection of the law to all citizens,” they said.

The 3 are accused of plunder for stealing millions of pesos from government funds meant for development projects in the countryside. Revilla and Cambe also face 16 counts of graft, while Napoles faces 42 counts of graft.

Against the law

Citing Section 13, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, the prosecutors argued that “an accused by virtue of a warrant of arrest must be delivered to the nearest police station or jail.”

This was the same rule cited by 3rd division justices in initially committing Reyes to the BJMP facility in Quezon City. They ordered her detained at Camp Bagong Diwa later on, after the QC BJMP reported that it had inadequate facilities to secure the accused. She was rushed to the Philippine Heart Center Friday night, July 11, however.

Justice Alex Quiroz, of the 3rd division, said in a July 10 hearing that the PNP Custodial Center is not meant for detainees who are undergoing trial.

Another 3rd division member, Justice Samuel Martires likewise said the law must be followed, an indirect hit at the other divisions that ordered the detention of the PDAF scam accused who surrendered to authorities at the PNP Custodial Center – such as Revilla and Estrada.

The 1st division is handling Revilla’s case, while the 5th division is handling the charges against Estrada.

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