Sandiganbayan denies Napoles’ WPP transfer

Published April 10, 2018, 1:20 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Czarina Nicole Ong

The Sandiganbayan First Division sees no reason why alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles should be transferred to the witness protection program (WPP) of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles swear before the senate blue rebbon commitee which holding inquiry into the 10 billion Priority Development Assitance Fund (PDAF) scam_081113_Senate07_Bob-Dungo,jr / file photo
Pork Barrel scam primary suspect Janet Lim-Napoles (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Napoles was provisionally admitted into the WPP on February 27. Because of this, she filed an urgent motion before the anti-graft court in March seeking transfer from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to the DOJ-WPP.

She cited the provisions of Republic Act 6981, also known as the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act, which states that state witnesses should be secured until he or she has testified.

At the same time, Napoles said she is entitled to have a secure housing facility until the threat, intimidation or harassment against her person disappears or is at least reduced.

Napoles even filed a manifestation with compliance before the court and shared a “harassment, intimidation” story at the hands of BJMP personnel which took place on October 12, 2017.

But in a five-page resolution promulgated on April 5 the court denied her motion for lack of merit.

“To place accused Napoles into the custody of the WPP despite being presently under detention for a lawful cause is contrary to the clear and express import of Article IX, Section 1 of the IRR of R.A. 6981,” the resolution read.

“Notably, the said provision does not admit of any exception. Verily, the denial of the instant motion is warranted under the premises,” it added.

The resolution was penned by Associate Justice Efren De La Cruz and concurred by Associate Justices Geraldine Faith Econg and Edgardo Caldona.

Napoles is facing several counts for violation of Section 2 of R.A. 7080, also known as the plunder law, as well as several graft charges before different divisions of the Sandiganbayan.

In the First Division, she is the co-accused of former Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. The Third and Fifth Divisions, where she is facing plunder and graft charges with former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, respectively, have yet to issue resolutions regarding her motion for transfer.