MANILA - (UPDATE) The Sandiganbayan First Division on Tuesday denied Janet Lim Napoles' plea to be released from detention and be transferred to the custody of the Department of Justice's witness protection program.
Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam, is detained "for a lawful cause," the court's First Division said in its resolution, adding that it has denied her bail petition earlier.
She is currently detained at the Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City under the custody of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
To place Napoles into the custody of the WPP despite detention for lawful cause was "contrary to the clear and express import" of Article XI, Section 1 of the implementing rules and regulations of the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act, the court said.
"Notably, the said provision does not admit of any exception. Verily, the denial of the instant motion is warranted under the premises," it said.
Napoles has been "provisionally covered" by the witness protection program since February 27, according to a document from the DOJ.
She is facing charges in connection with the billions in Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) funneled to non-existent projects by bogus non-government organizations which she owned.
The scam was first busted in 2013, eventually leading to the scrapping of discretionary funds at the legislature.
Napoles had earlier come out with her own list of lawmakers and other individuals she accused of being involved in the scam, but only a few personalities have been indicted.