State asks Sandiganbayan to junk 'preposterous' Napoles custody transfer plea

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 28 2018 04:20 PM | Updated as of Dec 31 2018 05:22 PM

MANILA - Government prosecutors have opposed the move of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles to be transferred to the custody of the Department of Justice (DOJ) after supposed threats against her and her provisional admission to the Witness Protection Program (WPP).

In a written opposition filed before the Sandiganbayan 5th Division, the prosecution said the request of Napoles reeks of self-entitlement and has no legal basis.

“Her ululation is misplaced, if not outright preposterous,” the prosecution said in its comment filed by Deputy Special Prosecutor Cornelio Somido.

The prosecution also reiterated that under Section 1, Article IX of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 6981, the WPP “shall not take into its protective custody a witness who is under detention for any lawful cause.”

Napoles is a co-accused in plunder and graft cases on trial at the Sandiganbayan, but Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has said that she may be utilized as a state witness in new cases also stemming from the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.

“Thus, her WPP provisional coverage aside, the undeniable fact is that accused Napoles is a detainee undergoing prosecution and awaiting final judgment. Pursuant to R.A. No. 6975, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) is mandated to control and administer the safekeeping of such inmates,” the prosecution said.

The prosecution also hit Napoles for submitting a BJMP report on a cell inspection as proof of supposed threats against her while detained at Camp Bagong Diwa.

“While she submitted a purported Incident Report via her Manifestation with Compliance dated March 21, 2018, without necessarily downplaying it, the matter reported therein, at first glance, can hardly qualify as a “manifestation of threat, intimidation and harassment” inasmuch as, based on the said report, it was the BJMP Greyhound Team itself which conducted the search” the prosecution said.

The undated BJMP incident report, which Napoles' camp had filed in court as proof of an alleged ransacking of her cell, showed that the agency's Greyhound Team "conducted search" at her cell on Oct. 12, 2017. 

A "greyhound operation" is a legitimate operation conducted by the BJMP to implement a crackdown on illegal drugs and other illegal operations inside jail facilities.