Sandigan junks Napoles plea for transfer to NBI custody

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Philstar file photo of Janet Lim-Napoles

MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court has thumbed down Janet Lim-Napoles’ plea to be transferred to the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) from the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City, where she allegedly had been receiving death threats since she had expressed her intention to become a state witness.

The Sandiganbayan instead ordered the alleged pork barrel scam queen to be transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, under the custody of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

Justice Geraldine Faith Econg said the BJMP should have custody of Napoles while she is awaiting results of the trial of the cases filed against her.

The “safekeeping” of detainees awaiting trial is not among the mandates of the NBI, according to Econg.

Also, the justice said allegations that there were threats against the life of Napoles were “premature” because these were not backed up by evidence.

Napoles will return to Camp Bagong Diwa two years since she was transferred from there to the Mandaluyong women’s prison in April 2015, days after she was found guilty of the serious illegal detention of primary pork barrel scam witness Benhur Luy, her cousin and former employee.

Earlier this month, Napoles was acquitted by the Court of Appeals. It overturned the April 2015 ruling by Judge Elmo Almeda of Branch 150 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati who sentenced Napoles and her brother, Reynald “Jojo” Lim, to reclusion perpetua or a jail term of up to 40 years for detaining Luy for three months from December 2012 to to March 2013.

It was Solicitor General Jose Calida who moved for Napoles’ acquittal through a manifestation that his office filed before the CA last January, six months since President Rodrigo Duterte started his term.