Napoles trial eyed at Laguna fort

By Christina Mendez, The Philippine Star

Posted at Sep 03 2013 12:56 AM | Updated as of Sep 03 2013 08:56 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Franklin Drilon proposed Monday that the trial of Janet Lim-Napoles be held in her place of detention at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna for security reasons and to save on cost.

“Maybe we can ask the Supreme Court to bring the court to the camp, and hold the hearing there rather than bringing Napoles to Makati,” he said.

Drilon made the proposal after Senators Nancy Binay, Francis Escudero and JV Ejercito sought questions from Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II about the expenses incurred in the transfer of Napoles to the training camp of the Special Action Force (SAF).

Escudero, Senate committee on finance chairman, said police will encounter risks every time Napoles is taken to court in Makati for trial.

“Isn’t it a valid security concern on the part of the PNP that you would bring Ms. Napoles each time she has a hearing?” he said.

Fort Sto. Domingo is 46 kilometers away from Makati, he added.

Binay asked how much the police spend every time Napoles is transported from Fort Sto. Domingo to court in Makati.

Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima said about 20 police officers are deployed for the transfer of Napoles.

Drilon said the case jurisdiction will remain with the Makati court, although trial will be held inside Fort Sto. Domingo.

“In the same manner that there are hearings for convicted prisoners facing charges in Muntinlupa,” he said. “You don’t have to bring out the prisoner to court. You bring the court to the prisoner.”

Roxas said the PNP will abide with whatever ruling the court makes on the serious illegal detention case against Napoles.

“We will abide by the orders of the court. And according to the Court, Janet Napoles should be brought to Fort Sto. Domingo,” he said.

The Makati Court has set arraignment on Sept. 9.

Speaking to reporters, Roxas said Napoles is not being given special treatment, and that the government must ensure her protection.

“The so-called special treatment, VIP treatment which is happening is not because she is VIP but because the government wants her alive when she is confronted with all these issues during trial,” he said in Filipino.

At Fort Sto. Domingo, the SAF jailers of Napoles have undergone a crash course on jail management to ensure her security.

Director Carmelo Valmoria, SAF commander, said they have no appropriate training in handling detainees and jail management.

Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP-Public Information Office chief, said the SAF pre-positioned as security for Napoles underwent a quick seminar on jail management with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

“The control and jurisdiction of Napoles has been turned over again to the SAF by virtue of the court order when she was transferred from Makati City Jail to Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna,” he said.

Under BJMP regulations, sharp and pointed objects like long toothbrush handle, kitchen utensils, metal spoons and forks are prohibited inside the detention cell.

Valmoria said cooking is not allowed inside the detention facility and Napoles will depend on the food rations similar to those served to SAF trainees.

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

Sindac said two SAF policewomen assigned to guard Napoles will also serve as food taster to prevent possible food poisoning.

“All food brought to Napoles are screened first by the two female SAF security,” he said.

On Napoles’ second day in detention, she had only one visitor: her lawyer Alfredo Villamor, he added.

Sindac said authorities have installed closed circuit television in the place of detention of Napoles.

“After the CCTV becomes operational, we are looking forward to avail of live streaming,” he said.

However, Sindac said that according to Roxas, Fort Sto. Domingo has poor Internet connection.

Roxas said the CCTV was meant to record everything in case records are needed in the future.

“We have installed CCTV to ensure that there is a physical record... in case there are questions later,” he said.

“That’s on top of the regular logbook that is manually updated by whoever is on duty.” – With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Paolo Romero