By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki
The Sandiganbayan Third Division is piqued with the continued absence of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles in the graft and plunder trial of former senator Juan Ponce Enrile, and has summoned officials from the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to explain why she is not attending the scheduled hearings.
Enrile is facing one plunder and 15 graft charges because of the reported misuse of his priority development assistance fund (PDAF), which he allegedly endorsed to the bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) owned by Napoles in exchange for kickbacks.
Enrile and Napoles are facing the charges together with his former chief of staff, Jessica “Gigi” Reyes, who is still detained at the Taguig City Jail of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig.
Meanwhile, Napoles has been transferred to New Bilibid Prison in Sampaguita Road, Muntinlupa City after she was found guilty of plunder in the case filed against Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., who has already been acquitted.
Napoles has been absent since January 29, when she was supposed to sign the pre-trial order. When asked to explain, Jail Senior Inspector Jane Bautista and Senior Superintendent Cecilia Villanueva from the Correctional Institute for Women (CIW) said that Napoles was unable to attend because of her health condition, since she has high blood sugar levels.
However, the explanation did not sit well with the Sandiganbayan justices. Associate Justice Ronald Moreno even said that Napoles only feels bad whenever there is an order for her to go to court.
When the BuCor officials insisted that it wasn’t the case, and Napoles indeed has a history of increased blood sugar levels, the court demanded for a notarized copy of her past medical records.
Napoles is expected to appear before the anti-graft court again on Wednesday morning, February 12, to finally sign the pre-trial order so that Enrile’s trial can finally proceed. In light of her absence, the Third Division has cancelled the scheduled plunder trial of Enrile on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 11.#