Aquino allies want Napoles transferred to regular jail
MANILA, Philippines—Allies of President Benigno Aquino III in the House of Representatives want to end the special treatment given to detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles by moving her to a regular jail.
Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello on Friday said Napoles’ transfer from a police camp in Sta. Rosa City in Laguna province was “long overdue.”
“This is necessary to dispel any impression that she’s being coddled by the government,” Bello said in a text message.
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said yesterday that the public prosecutors handling Napoles’ case should bring a motion asking the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 to order the alleged brains behind the P10-billion pork barrel scam transferred to an ordinary jail.
“While thousands of poor Filipinos are languishing in crowded, dilapidated buildings with unsanitary conditions, the ‘pork barrel queen’ who allegedly amassed hundreds of millions of [pesos in] public funds is staying in a well-ventilated room with a sala,” Barzaga said.
Barzaga, a top official of the National Unity Party that belongs to the administration coalition in the House, said Napoles’ continued stay in Laguna would be problematic should the courts order the arrest of her coaccused in the plunder and malversation charges filed by the National Bureau of Investigation in the Office of the Ombudsman.
“They (accused lawmakers and others) will have to be provided detention facilities similar to that granted to Napoles by invoking the equal protection clause of the Constitution which mandates that people similarly situated should be treated equally,” Barzaga said.
Napoles has been charged with plunder and malversation along with 37 others, including Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and former Representatives Rizalina Seachon-Lanete (currently Masbate governor), Edgar Valdez of Apec party-list, Samuel Dangwa (Benguet), Rodolfo Plaza (Agusan del Sur) and Constantino Jaraula (Cagayan de Oro).
“To remove any basis for her appeal not to be moved, GMA (former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) should also be moved to a regular cell,” Bello said.
But Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said that moving Napoles to a regular jail would all but ensure her keeping silent on the fake foundations she allegedly formed to siphon off pork funds of lawmakers into her bank accounts by proposing phantom projects and giving them hundreds of millions of pesos in kickbacks.
“I think she will just continue to clam up on her role in the scam. We should use reverse psychology,” Albano said in a text message.
Napoles is held in the Sta. Rosa police camp on a separate, nonbailable offense—serious illegal detention involving the principal whistle-blower in the pork barrel scam, Benhur Luy.
She has been staying in the police camp in the last three months because the Makati City Jail warden could not guarantee her safety in the company of other criminals.
Barzaga claimed that Napoles does not deserve the special treatment because she has been accused of masterminding the scam by stealing taxpayer money from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), a pork barrel that channels funds to congressional districts.
In her appearance at the Senate blue ribbon hearing on the pork barrel scam last November, Napoles practically cleared all lawmakers implicated by her former employees at JLN Corp. who did the paper work in transferring their pork to her fake NGOs and delivered their kickbacks to them.
Napoles refused to answer questions about her NGOs, saying she would deal with those questions in the Ombudsman case, and the source of her wealth, claiming she would tackle this in the tax evasion case brought by the Bureau of Internal Revenue against her and her husband.
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