Janet Napoles seeks transfer to NBI custody

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 10 2017 12:39 PM | Updated as of May 10 2017 01:12 PM

MANILA - Wearing a powder blue blouse instead of the usual orange colored clothing used by prisoners, alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles went to the Sandiganbayan to sign the pre-trial order in her case involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of former APEC Party-list Rep. Edgar Valdez.

A few members of the media were able to talk to Napoles who was recently acquitted by the Court of Appeals in the serious illegal detention case filed by her cousin and former employee Benhur Luy.

Inside the ambulance, Napoles was in a very good mood, noting that she is no longer required to wear the required orange clothing because of her acquittal. However, she was still surrounded by female security personnel inside the ambulance.

Napoles talked about the religious group which she formed inside the Correctional Institute for Women (CIW) with around 500 members which she will be leaving behind as she will likely be transferred to another facility.

But she refused to talk about the merits of her cases, both her recent acquittal and the ongoing cases at the Sandiganbayan.

Outside the ambulance, bomb squad personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP), besides SWAT members, were also on stand-by.

Instead of going to the Sandiganbayan 5th Division courtroom, Napoles signed the attendance sheet and the pre-trial order inside the ambulance of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

According to her lawyer, Atty. Stephen David, the threat against Napoles has heightened after the statement of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II that Napoles may become a state witness.

"Mas matindi ngyaon ang threat siyempre, hindi natin alam kung sino ang talagang involved, sino ang puwedeng masagasaan," David said.

(Of course, there's even greater threat now. We do not know who's involved, who's going to be hit [if Napoles becomes state witness].)

Napoles briefly left the ambulance to take a quick bathroom break before leaving the Sandiganbayan. She said she does not prefer any detention facility, as she is set to be transferred from the CIW after her acquittal.

But David said he has already sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to request that Napoles be detained at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for easier coordination with the agency.

David noted they are considering the statement of Aguirre who said that Napoles may turn state witness with the possible re-investigation of the pork barrel scam.

"Ang request ko sa NBI, well kasi unang-una meron kasing sinabi si DOJ na open sila, ako kung ganoon, open din kami," David said.

Three divisions of the Sandiganbayan have standing denials of the bail requests of Napoles -- the courts hearing the plunder cases of former Senators Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile -- which require that Napoles be detained.

She was last detained inside Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig before she was transferred to the CIW after her conviction by the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 for the serious illegal detention case.