Senators want Napoles in ordinary jail

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Friday, February 14, 2014

MANILA -- At least two senators urged the need to transfer alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles to a regular jail in the name of "equality and fairness."

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III on Friday said that Napoles should be moved to a regular jail because "ordinary accused persons are detained in regular jails."

He said it is the job of the prosecution to ask the court for the transfer of the controversial businesswoman from a special cell in a police camp in Sta. Rosa, Laguna to a regular jail in Makati City.

Napoles is accused of serious illegal detention by her former employee-turned-whistleblower Benhur Luy before the Makati Regional Trial Court for allegedly detaining him for several days.

But she is being detained in a special cell of the Philippine National Police (PNP) at Fort Sto. Domingo, where she is reportedly enjoying special privileges not normally accorded to others who are similarly situated.

Pimentel, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said that all accused persons should have equal protection under the law, but Napoles has been detained at the police barracks, which PNP officials claimed cost them some P150,000 in monthly maintenance.

"All other accused persons are held in regular jails," he said. "She is an accused in illegal detention, and we know her alleged victims, hence, if something happens to her we know the suspects, therefore, they will not do it."

He, however, doubted the capability of Luy to harm Napoles, adding that since she is in the custody of law enforcers, it would be difficult to do anything inside if someone intends to do one.

Luy, along with his former co-employees in the various bogus non-governmental organizations set up by Napoles, had accused the businesswoman as the brains behind the pork barrel scam.

Pimentel said that personnel of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) must be able to protect Napoles under detention, otherwise their failure would be a slap to their faces putting their competence under question.

Senator Francis Escudero, for his part, said the Department of Justice (DOJ) must not treat Napoles as a "special one," saying she should be on equal footing with any person charged with crimes.

Escudero said there is nothing significant with the testimony of Napoles at the Blue Ribbon committee hearing and P150,000 monthly expense of the government is too much for a person who refused to coordinate and tell the truth.

According to Escudero, the government has been spending money and taking special effort to make sure that Napoles is safe and well guarded, because of the belief that there is big threat to her life.

The senator said he cannot see the point why the government must continue extending special treatment to Napoles since she herself refused to cooperate in providing information to shed light on the pork barrel scam.

A regular jail, Escudero said is not bad at all.

The senator urged DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima to weigh things carefully. Escudero said transferring Napoles to a regular jail cell will not put her in danger since there is no clear threat to her life. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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