Sandigan justices inspect Taguig jail for Napoles, Gigi Reyes

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Sandigan justices inspect Taguig jail for Napoles, Gigi Reyes
Justice Martires tags the BJMP as the 'worst violator of human rights' because, as a jail warden has testified, its female dormitory in Taguig iscongested by almost 180%

MANILA, Philippines – Justices of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s 3rd division visited the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) female dormitory in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City, late afternoon Wednesday, July 30.

Two of the accused over the diversion of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) are currently detained at the Taguig jail upon the orders of the said division.

Enrile’s former chief of staff and lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes was transferred to the facility on July 9, while alleged PDAF scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles was transferred on July 28.

The convoy of Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, Justice Samuel Martires, and court sheriffs arrived at Camp Bagong Diwa at around 4:45 pm. 

The justices’ visit came after Napoles conceded to the jail transfer they ordered. 

For over 10 months, Napoles was held at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) Training School in Fort Sto Domingo in Laguna. She was committed to the special police facility by the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150, which is hearing her serious illegal detention case.

The Sandiganbayan 3rd division ordered her transfer, after it resolved that the police training center does not qualify as a jail as defined by law. 

Napoles withdraws bid vs jail transfer

In a hearing early afternoon Wednesday, Napoles’ camp withdrew the bid to reverse the court-ordered transfer from the training center in Laguna to the Taguig City jail.

Napoles’ lawyer Evita Magnolia Ansaldo appeared before the Sandiganbayan 3rd division to inform the bench they are withdrawing their motion for reconsideration against its July 25 commitment order. 

Ansaldo said they are no longer pursuing the reversal of the order, considering that Napoles is already in the custody of the BJMP and is already detained at its facility.

The 3rd division’s order contradicts the commitment order issued on June 23 by the Sandiganbayan’s 1st division, where Napoles is also facing plunder charges in relation to the illegal diversion of Senator Ramon Revilla Jr’s PDAF.

The 1st division ordered the PNP Crime Investigation and Detection Group to keep Napoles “in its custody” and “not to remove, transfer or relocate her from her present detention quarters until further orders from the Court.”

Napoles is suspected to be the mastermind behind the diversion of lawmakers’ PDAF to bogus projects of non-governmental organizations. She is charged with plunder and graft before 3 divisions of the Sandiganbayan. 

In a text message to Rappler, BJMP spokesperson Aris Villaester said the two PDAF accused, Reyes and Napoles, are held in separate isolation rooms in the ground floor of the BJMP facility in Taguig.

Villaester added, however, that they are waiting for the recommendation of the justices. 

Female detainees are held in rooms of 30 to 40 at the 4th floor of the facility, while the two are held in office rooms turned into temporary detention areas at the 1st floor.

Worst HR violator?

In an earlier hearing, Justice Martires tagged the BJMP as the “worst violator of human rights” because, as BJMP jail warden Jundelina Jagunap testified, the Taguig BJMP female dormitory was congested by almost 180%.

There are 140 other inmates committed to the female dormitory at the 4th floor.

Dennis Pulma, 3rd division clerk of court, told reporters in a chance interview after the inspection that Napoles’ and Reyes’ isolation rooms at the ground floor are divided by a concrete wall, making them unable to communicate with each other.

He added that the ocular visit is part of the duties of the court – a duty they also fulfilled when they issued the initial order committing Reyes to a BJMP facility in Quezon City.

Justices Martires and Alex Quiroz earlier visited the QC facility. The QC BJMP, however, explained to the court that they did not have enough facilities to secure Reyes, prompting the court to commit Reyes instead to the Taguig jail. – 

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