MANILA, Philippines—The camp of Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged mastermind behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam, asked the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Wednesday to defer her arraignment and suspend the proceedings on the serious illegal detention charges filed against her and her brother.
Napoles filed the 22-page urgent motion in the Makati RTC Branch 150 through the Kapunan Garcia and Castillo law firm, seeking to reverse the earlier order of Judge Elmo Alameda that set the date of her arraignment on Sept. 9 at 1:30 p.m.
Napoles’ lawyers argued that there were still motions filed in court that had yet to be resolved, including a motion for bills of particulars requesting information on the charge against her and her brother, Reynald Lim.
A petition for certiorari with a temporary restraining order that questions the legality of the warrants of arrest issued earlier by Alameda and assails the local court’s “grave abuse of discretion” also remains unresolved at the Court of Appeals.
“It would be the height of unfairness and bias to allow the arraignment to proceed,” Napoles’ lawyers said, adding that they had no intention to delay the proceedings.
“The principle of hierarchy of courts allows this honorable court to defer the arraignment of Janet and to desist from further proceeding to allow the Honorable Court of Appeals to resolve the petition for certiorari,” they said.
The National Bureau of Investigation has charged Napoles and Lim with illegally detaining Benhur Luy, an employee at Napoles’ JLN Group of Companies and principal witness in the pork barrel scam.
The Makati RTC acted on the complaint and issued warrants for their arrests immediately after it was filed.
The motions from Napoles’ camp will be tackled in a hearing in the court of Judge Alameda at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Napoles has filed perjury charges against Luy and the other whistle-blowers in the pork barrel scam.
Among the accused in the perjury case are Luy’s parents, Arturo and Gertrudes Luy, and brother Arthur.
On Wednesday, Luy and the others, wearing bulletproof vests and under heavy guard, appeared in the Office of the Manila Prosecutor and answered Napoles’ charges.
The charges, they said, “should be dismissed for lack of merit, as both the Department of Justice and the presiding judge of (Makati RTC Branch 150) had already found probable cause (to prosecute Napoles) on the basis of the truthfulness of the affidavits of the whistle-blowers.”
Luy’s sister, Annabel Luy, and whistle-blower Merlina Suñas, also submitted affidavits to the Manila prosecutor countering Napoles’ charges.
Not easy to move
Napoles is detained at Fort Sto. Domingo, the training school of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) in Sta. Rosa City in Laguna province.
Save for medical emergencies, a court-issued order is needed before she can be moved, the PNP said on Wednesday.
Senior Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP spokesperson, said Napoles’ condition had improved after she suffered from an anxiety attack and hypertension during her first two days in the camp.
“The result of her ECG (electrocardiogram) procedure was normal,” Sindac said.
Contrary to news reports that she had a “no pork diet,” Sindac said Napoles was served pork after her blood pressure and sugar had returned to normal levels.
“There should be a clearance from the doctor on duty before (Napoles could be taken) to hospital,” Sindac said.
“All other reasons other than medical emergency require an order from the court,” he said. With reports from Nancy C. Carvajal and Marlon Ramos