By Czarina Nicole Ong
All three divisions of the Sandiganbayan which are handling the graft and plunder charges of alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles have said “no” to her plea to be transferred to the Witness Protection Program (WPP) of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
It was the First Division which first issued a resolution to her motion for transfer. In the First Division, she is being tried for plunder alongside former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr.
The next to say no was the Fifth Division. There, Napoles is also being tried for graft and plunder together with former Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada.
Now, the Third Division, where she is facing graft and plunder charges with former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, also said no to her bid for transfer.
Napoles was provisionally admitted into the WPP on February 27. Because of this, she filed an urgent motion before the anti-graft court on March seeking transfer from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to the DOJ-WPP.
She cited the provisions of R.A. 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.
She even cited instances of “harassment, intimidation” instances while under the custody of the BJMP.
The Third Division stated in its 10-page resolution that Napoles’ arguments are “bereft of merit.”
“The jurisdiction of the Court over the person of accused Napoles continues until the final determination of this case and the exercise thereof cannot be interfered with,” the resolution stressed.
At the same time, the anti-graft court found no valid reason to allow the transfer of Napoles to another detention facility or agency. Despite her claim that she was intimidated and harassed while under detention of the BJMP, the Court ruled that she failed to “mention any threat on the life of Napoles.”
The resolution was penned by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and concurred by Associate Justices Bernelito Fernandez and Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta.