Napoles rejects jail transfer, claims ‘high-risk’ status

Buena Bernal
Napoles rejects jail transfer, claims ‘high-risk’ status
'The cases brought against her are intensely controversial and involve highly powerful and controversial personalities. There are grave, real, and imminent threats to her life and security,' her lawyers say.

MANILA, Philippines – Alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles opposed on Wednesday, July 23, the bid to have her transferred to a Taguig jail. 

An opposition by her lawyers Stephen David and Evita Magnolia Ansaldo was submitted to the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, claiming security risks warrant Napoles’ stay at the Fort Sto Domingo in Laguna. 

Prosecutors earlier asked the court to order her transfer to a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City. The Laguna facility is not a jail as defined by law, the prosecutors claimed. (READ: Court asked to transfer Revilla, Estrada, Napoles to BJMP facility)  

Napoles is facing plunder and graft charges before the Sandiganbayan. 

She is accused of financially gaining from the scam to divert lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel to fictitious projects. The projects were hosted on paper by non-governmental organizations she supposedly controlled.

“The cases brought against her are intensely controversial and involve highly powerful and controversial personalities. There are grave, real, and imminent threats to her life and security,” the opposition read.

The same reason drove Napoles to apply as a state witness for the PDAF scam cases. (READ: ‘Security threats drove Napoles to apply as state witness’

Her application was denied by the Ombudsman on June 5, a decision that was appealed by her lawyers. (READ: Napoles, 3 senators to be charged before Sandiganbayan

Blessed by no less than Mar

The order to detain Napoles in the Laguna facility was issued by the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150, with the blessing of no less than Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas.

As if enough legal basis, Napoles’ lawyers cited this in their opposition before the court.

They cited Roxas’ press conference on August 31, 2013 when the cabinet official described Napoles as a “high-risk detainee.” 

The former senator even inspected for himself the detention facility in Laguna, the opposition further read.

A close administration ally, Roxas was the running mate of President Benigno Aquino III in the 2010 polls. Napoles surrendered to Aquino personally on August 28, 2013.

She was wanted for detaining PDAF scam whistleblower Benhur Luy against the latter’s will from December 2012 up to March 2013, when Luy was rescued by authorities. Serious illegal detention – her case pending before the Makati court – is non-bailable. 

The case was heard even before her plunder and graft charges were filed.

A plea for bail, however, for her serious illegal detention case is pending before the Court of Appeals (CA). (READ: Court asks Luy to comment on Napoles’ bail plea

Legal grounds

In her opposition, Napoles, through her lawyers, argued that the Makati court has jurisdiction over her until the resolution of the serious illegal detention case.

Citing the legal “doctrine of adherence of jurisdiction,” Napoles’ camp argued that the Makati court order to detain her at Fort Sto Domingo stands despite “intervening facts.”

Prosecutors, however, argued that Napoles’ stay in Fort Sto Domingo would be burdensome to the government due to her frequent travels to the Sandiganbayan in Quezon City for her trial. 

Napoles’ lawyers countered by saying their client already waived her appearance in court and gave her lawyers full authority to represent her.

The motion to transfer the accused in the pork barrel scam case to the BJMP facility in Taguig seems to have been prompted by the order of the Sandiganbayan 3rd division to commit lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes to the Taguig jail. (READ: Gigi Reyes to be detained in Taguig jail)  

Reyes is the only one among the accused in the PDAF scam who is detained in an actual jail. 

Senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr, as well as Revilla’s aide Richard Cambe are detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center. The center is meant for detainees who are being investigated by the PNP. (READ: Custodial center not for accused in ‘pork’ scam?

Reyes’ former boss and 90-year-old Senator Juan Ponce Enrile remains under temporary hospital arrest. – Rappler.com

 

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