Napoles cites ‘death threats’ in request for NBI detention
Accused pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles has been receiving death threats since she expressed her bid to become state witness, her lawyer told Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III.
In a letter dated May 5, Atty. Stephen David informed Aguirre that Napoles has been receiving written threats from unknown individuals even from behind bars as she is serving her life sentence at the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong.
Aguirre said since Napoles expressed her intention to become state witness under the new administration, she has started to receive death threats and felt like someone is watching her.
David added that there were instances where her belongings in her cell were ransacked.
“According to her, her first year inside the correctional was bearable although there were threats against her even at the start of her confinement… Because of significant circumstances affecting her cases, she was now bombarded with almost everyday death threats to the point that her personal belongings were ransacked since February 2017,” David told Aguirre.
“She was aware that the threats against her became serious and strong when the news circulated that she may be used as a government/state witness against some high-ranking government officials regarding the PDAF scam and the present administration intends to revisit her cases,” he added.
David informed Aguirre of Napoles’ situation behind bars in requesting that the accused pork barrel scam mastermind be transferred at the detention center of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to keep her safe from the threats against her behind bars, which she believes come from high-ranking public officials bent to stop her from spilling more beans on the scam.
“As of writing, Mrs. Napoles informed us that she is still receiving death threats. Because of her current state and considering the environment she is in, we decided to formally and humbly request that our client, Mrs. Napoles, be transferred confinement from CIW to NBI which we believe is much safer for her and peaceful for her,” David said.
“We believe that your office, through the NBI can give Mrs. Napoles her much needed protection,” he added.
David requested an NBI detention for Napoles since her acquittal in the serious illegal detention case.
But Napoles could not go free yet as she faces multiple charges of plunder, malversation, direct bribery and graft in the pork barrel scam charges of several senators and representatives as the accused mastermind of the scam.
She had been denied bail in the plunder cases of former senators Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr., and Juan Ponce Enrile. She could not yet be released as the court committed her to be detained at the women’s detention center at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.
Since the Court of Appeals reversed her conviction for the serious illegal detention of scam whistleblower Benhur Luy, Napoles has come out to express her bid to become state witness.
David earlier said Napoles would pin down allies of the previous administration who were spared from investigation, and that she intends to help a “fairer” administration under President Rodrigo Duterte.
David is known a supporter of Duterte. His wife Lanee, who also served as Napoles’ lawyer in her plunder cases, was appointed by Duterte as deputy commissioner at the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
During the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales denied the request for immunity as state witness of Napoles, calling her the “most guilty” in the crime.
“Furthermore, Napoles appears to be among the most guilty of all respondents,” the Ombudsman then said.
David said Napoles may refile her denied bail petitions in her plunder cases now that Luy’s testimony is put under question after the appellate court reversed her conviction for serious illegal detention.
Napoles may even plead guilty to a lesser offense under a plea bargaining agreement, David said.
Napoles’ alleged illegal detention of Luy to prevent him from spilling the beans is central in Luy’s testimony before the Sandiganbayan, where he testified that he kept records of the purported commissions for lawmakers in cahoots with Napoles.
Napoles allegedly masterminded the scheme of pocketing kickbacks in the ghost projects of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Napoles had been convicted by the Makati Regional Trial Court and sentenced to life imprisonment for detaining Luy for three months over suspicions he was starting his own scam behind her back and stealing money from her.
But in a 35-page decision, the appellate court’s 12th division reversed the conviction and said the state prosecutors failed to present evidence to show that Napoles was behind Luy’s detention at Bahay ni San Jose, a retreat house in Magallanes Village in Makati.
Luy appeared not to show any signs of being coerced while in the retreat house, the court said, adding that Luy even resisted the NBI operation that rescued him.
“Despite the fact that Benhur called and updated his family from time to time, he never mentioned anything about being detained forcefully. In several instances, he even met with his family and yet never showed any sign that he was being kept in Bahay ni San Jose against his will,” the appeals court said.
“The prosecution failed to satisfactorily explain the resistance of Benhur Luy to the rescue operation, which, to our mind negates the claim of serious illegal detention,” the CA added.
The CA ruled in favor of Napoles after Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a manifestation in lieu of rejoinder to the appellate court recommending Napoles’ acquittal.
Calida said the element of deprivation of liberty is absent and wanting in the case, and that justice should be served on the alleged scam mastermind.
“After examining anew the evidence presented by both the prosecution and defense, the OSG (Office of Solicitor General) finds that the evidence presented does not support beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant committed the crime of serious illegal detention,” the manifestation read.
Napoles’ misfortune seemed to have a reversal during the administration of President Duterte, whose supporters include known Napoles lawyers David and Bruce Rivera. JE
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