Napoles late for hearing; jailer in trouble
MANILA, Philippines—Detained alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles showed up very late for her appointed court hearing at the Sandiganbayan on Friday, arriving with her custodians 10 minutes after the half-day session had adjourned.
This prompted Associate Justice Samuel Martires to warn that Napoles’ Fort Sto. Domingo jailer could be facing a contempt citation for not obeying the produce order issued by the court the day before the first hearing of Napoles’ petition for bail on plunder charges at the Third Division.
Napoles’ lawyer Stephen David said it was his understanding that his client was not required to attend the 8:30 a.m. hearing because of a waiver of appearance that she had filed with the three divisions of the antigraft court where she is facing plunder and graft charges.
But Martires said such a waiver “can always be subordinated by a produce order.”
He recommended that the warden of the temporary detention facility in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna province, be ordered to explain Napoles’ absence and why he should not be held in contempt.
David admitted having phoned Napoles’ custodians around 10:30 a.m. that “the hearing will be finished in an hour” and that their ward might not be able to make it.
The lawyer claimed that he did not even know of the produce order, as this was directly transmitted to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Napoles, wearing sunglasses, jeans and a bulletproof vest over a blue hooded jacket, eventually arrived at 10 minutes past noon. The three Sandiganbayan justices had already left the courtroom by then. She avoided the phalanx of journalists waiting outside the courtroom.
David said there were only two circumstances under which his client should be forced to attend court hearings: When he requests her presence in court and when she is ordered by the court to appear.
“I had no request so I didn’t know. It turned out that the court had asked the police to produce the body [of Napoles]. But I did not know that,” he told reporters.
At the bail hearing, state prosecutors presented their first witness to prove that their evidence was strong, and that Napoles should not be granted bail on the strength of such evidence.
Carmencita Delantar, a director at the Department of Budget and Management’s “Budget and Management Bureau G,” testified that her office issued eight special allotment release orders (Saros) for projects identified by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, Napoles’ coaccused in the case, from 2007 to 2009.
The witness spent most of her time on the stand attesting to the authenticity of the Saros and related documents, such as Enrile’s cover letters for the list of projects for which he was seeking funding and notices of cash allocation.
On direct examination by prosecutor Annielyn Medes-Cabelis, Delantar also explained the process by which Saros are issued by the DBM, and how funds were actually released to the agencies tasked to implement the projects endorsed by a particular lawmaker to be drawn from his pork barrel, officially called the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), allotments.
41 prosecution witnesses
Napoles, Enrile, Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, and several other individuals are accused of conspiring to funnel the senators’ PDAF allocations to bogus nongovernment organizations allegedly controlled by Napoles and to the lawmakers’ own pockets.
Cabelis said she would be presenting nine to 10 witnesses for the bail petition, including officials from the Commission on Audit and the National Bureau of Investigation, and the whistle-blowers.
For the trial proper, state prosecutors have submitted a list of 41 witnesses.
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