Proposal being 'carefully studied': De Lima
MANILA (UPDATED) - Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero on Wednesday called anew for the transfer of Janet Lim Napoles to a regular jail since she has not said anything substantial about the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.
Napoles, the alleged mastermind in the scam, is currently detained at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna for a serious illegal detention charge filed by whistleblower Benhur Luy.
Escudero said Napoles, who is also facing plunder charges before the Ombudsman in connection with the scam, should no longer be detained there.
He noted the businesswoman has nothing to fear if it is true that she had no knowledge about the pork barrel scam as she claimed when she appeared before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing last year.
"Hanggang ngayon ang panawagan ko at hiling ko dapat ilagay na sa ordinaryong kulungan si Napoles. Dahil ang pagkakaunawa ko kaya siya nilagay at tinago dun dahil magsasalita siya laban sa mga makapangyarihang tao sa gobyerno," he said.
"Eh hindi naman pala siya magsasalita at wala naman pala siyang naaalala, eh di sinong mananakit sa kanya?" he added.
Napoles is accused of conspiring with lawmakers and other government officials in funneling billions of Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) she allegedly set up.
The three senators facing plunder charges along with Napoles are Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.
"Anong rason para pangalagaan ang kanyang seguridad? Kung wala siyang alam at naaalala at hindi naman tetestigo laban sa ika nga mga makapangyarihan daw na indibidwal, bakit kailangang bigyan siya ng ganung karaming seguridad?" Escudero said.
On Tuesday, Napoles underwent medical tests at the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital in Camp Crame.
Considered a high-risk detainee, she was escorted by the Special Action Force (SAF) to the hospital.
The government spent roughly P120,000 for Napoles' transportation and security.
"Dinala siya sa government hospital so expense ng gobyerno siyempre yung suweldo ng doctor, yung oras ng doctor," Escudero said.
He said the Department of Justice (DOJ) is the one in position to ask the court to transfer Napoles to an ordinary jail.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, for her part, said, "That's being carefully studied."
No to daily hearings
Meanwhile, the senator said the proposal of having a daily trial of the pork scam case still needs to be studied further.
"Yung continuous trial iba yon, speedy trial ay garantisado ng konstitusyon, yung continuous trial wala pa tayong rules kaugnay non na iniisyu ng Korte Suprema," he said.
Escudero, however, believes it is not necessary to hold daily hearings.
"Mas maganda sanang hindi na kasi pinapakita tuloy niyan na bibihirang mangyari ito, hindi madalas mangyari ito kaya special palagi ang korteng kini-create," he said.
"Mas nais kong ipakita at ipalabas na perception ay sinumang makikitang nagnanakaw ng pondo ng gobyerno dapat managot at hindi na kailangang mag-create ng special court. Trabahong ordinary yan ng mga korte na usigin at parusahan ang sinumang nagkasala at nagnakaw sa bayan," he added. -- Reports from Ruby Tayag, dzMM; Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News