Napoles on suicide watch

By Cecille Suerte Felipe, The Philippine Star

Posted at Sep 02 2013 07:29 AM | Updated as of Sep 02 2013 03:29 PM

MANILA - Sharp objects, shoelaces and ropes are not allowed for this high-value detainee. She gets a refrigerator and a reception room but not air-conditioning.

Controversial businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, at the center of controversy over a multibillion-peso pork barrel scam, settled into her special detention facility yesterday, with her custodians making sure no harm would come to her, either from outside elements or by her own hand.

Apart from ensuring that she cannot use any implements for committing suicide, her custodians must also make sure she cannot get hold of any device for escaping, according to Deputy Director General Felipe Rojas, Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy chief for operations.

Napoles was taken into custody by the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna following the order of the Makati City court to have her transferred for security reasons.

PNP-SAF director Chief Superintendent Carmelo Valmoria said shoelaces and curtains are not allowed at the bungalow where Napoles is now detained.

“We assure the public that there are no ropes or curtains inside. There are no sharp objects there. Even toothbrush handles have been broken,” Valmoria told reporters at the main gate of Fort Sto. Domingo shortly after Napoles was formally turned over.

“It’s like a typical bungalow with the doors and windows having grills,” Valmoria said.

Sacks were placed around the fence of the bungalow to allow Napoles some privacy.

The bungalow has a floor area of 82.4 square meters.

It has a 40-square-meter receiving room and a common toilet measuring 3.25 square meters. The bedroom is 19.2 square meters.

The windows, doors and ceiling have iron grills and its doors have padlocks.

“We can ensure her security,” Valmoria said.

Valmoria said the police camp is secured with closed-circuit television cameras installed at various points as part of the tightened security for Napoles.

He said the detention facility was not air-conditioned, but a small refrigerator was allowed for Napoles to store her medicine since she is a diabetic.

Valmoria said there are medical personnel available inside the camp in case of emergency.

Valmoria explained Napoles is considered a detainee under the rules of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) since she is facing charges of illegal detention before the Makati City court.

Under BJMP regulations, sharp and pointed objects like toothbrush handles, kitchen utensils, metal spoons and forks are not allowed inside the detention cell.

He said Napoles would have to depend on the food rations brought to her since cooking is not allowed at the detention facility.

“Napoles will get meals three times a day but without any snack in between regular meals. But since she is a diabetic, she could have biscuits,” Valmoria said.

When Napoles was turned over to the custody of the police camp, she had a blood pressure of 120/90. “She needs to have trice a day insulin, that’s why she needs a small refrigerator,” Valmoria added.

He said retired Marine Col. Jimmy Napoles was not allowed to stay with his wife but was told to guide the police guards on how to administer the insulin and other medical procedures regarding her diabetic condition.

Valmoria added Napoles could move freely inside her detention facility, which will be padlocked as soon as regular visiting hours is over.

The facility will be opened at 6 a.m.

Likewise, cell phones are not allowed and all visitors will have to leave their gadgets with the guards on duty.

He added visitors should first secure clearance from the court in order to visit Napoles.

“Napoles will be consulted on who can visit her since we don’t know who are her relatives and friends,” he added.

Valmoria said they are coordinating with the BJMP to guide the SAF troops on how to guard Napoles.

“SAF members are on counter-terrorism, national and international significance and jail management is not our mandated task, that’s why we need guidance from BJMP,” he said.

Valmoria also said the SAF can provide security for Napoles if she has to attend court hearings.

Senior Superintendent Roberto Fajardo, chief of the CIDG-National Capital Region, said any movement of Napoles should be reported to and cleared by the Makati City Court.

“In a manner of life and death, we need to bring her to the hospital, otherwise we need court order,” he said.

Just wanted to make sure

Some militant groups picketed the front gate of Fort Sto. Domingo, denouncing the supposed preferential treatment for Napoles.

Valmoria clarified Napoles was taken to the SAF camp by land, not by helicopter as some reports said.

Radio reports said some 100 protesters picketed the front gate of Fort Sto. Domingo denouncing corruption in government.

Photos released by the PNP showed Napoles was wearing a floral printed blouse, not the required yellow shirt worn by detainees when she was turned over to the custody of the PNP-SAF.

The group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) said Napoles was accorded all courtesy and privileges that were not granted to ordinary offenders.

On her first night of detention at the Makati City Jail, Napoles was kept separate from other female detainees in an air-conditioned room and was even provided with an airbed, the VACC said.

Officials, however, denied the so-called special treatment.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said President Aquino just wanted Napoles to be secured.

“The instruction of the President is very clear: to make sure that she is secure and nothing happens to her so that Napoles can be brought under the legal processes,” Valte said.

This way, the wheels of justice will start moving, she said.

“She was already transferred (to Fort Sto. Domingo) and let’s see what the assessment of the PNP will be, moving forward to her security situation,” Valte said.

Valte refused to say what charges will be filed against Napoles and when these will be filed.

She tossed the issue to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that has yet to finish its investigation on the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scandal.

“The cases that will be filed will be based on the evidence. And since the charges are now ready to be filed at the Department of Justice, we don’t want to preempt this. So let’s wait for the investigation to be finished,” she said.

Napoles faced arrest for allegedly detaining a former aide-turned-whistleblower to keep him from revealing details of the alleged embezzlement of funds involving several lawmakers.

After several days of eluding arrest, she surrendered to President Aquino at Malacañang on Aug. 28.

Napoles’ surrender came three days after tens of thousands held a mass protest demanding her arrest and the abolition of the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of legislators.

Apart from the charges of illegal detention, officials are readying charges against Napoles for allegedly conniving with legislators in putting up fake non-government organizations (NGOs) to siphon off money from their pork barrel funds.

“Let’s wait for the filing of the cases,” Valte suggested, reiterating that while Aquino may have misgivings about the integrity of the NBI, his trust and confidence in Justice Secretary Leila de Lima – who supervises NBI – remains.

“There’s no question about the trust and confidence the President has on Secretary de Lima,” Valte said.

At the same time, Valte parried off criticisms Napoles should have been brought before the Makati court judge that issued the warrant of arrest, not to President Aquino who had nothing to do with it.

“As a general rule, if there is a warrant, all law enforcement agencies are mandated to conduct the manhunt in accordance with the warrant. And as the President said, the secretary of justice was also apprised of the developments,” she added.

Valte, a lawyer by profession, agreed that Napoles should have been turned over to the court.

She noted, however, that Napoles made a voluntary surrender, which was why “she was immediately turned over to the lawful authorities.” – Delon Porcalla, Perseus Echeminada