Editorial: Napoles’s transfer

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Friday, July 25, 2014


THE Sandiganbayan is starting to correct a questionable setup as it hears the plunder case against Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and the other respondents that include Janet Lim-Napoles and lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes.

The anti-graft court’s Third Division ordered yesterday the transfer of Napoles from the detention center in Fort Sto. Domingo in Laguna to a jail run by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

Once transferred, Napoles will be with Reyes, who was the first one to be locked up in a BJMP jail after the plunder cases were lodged with the Sandiganbayan last month. Having only Reyes locked up in a BJMP jail has raised accusations of favoritism by the Sandiganbayan.

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To be fair, a Regional Trial Court and not the Sandiganbayan ordered Napoles’s detention in Fort Sto. Domingo. Napoles is also facing an illegal detention case filed by whistleblower Benhur Luy. She surrendered almost a year ago after months in hiding and was later brought to Laguna.

Fort Sto. Domingo is a more comfortable facility compared with the Taguig jail where more than a hundred female prisoners are being detained. Estrada and Revilla, meanwhile, are at the Custodial Center in Camp Crame while Enrile is still at the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital inside the same camp.

Napoles has, as expected, initially resisted the Sandiganbayan order. She had an operation (complete hysterectomy) at a Makati hospital three months ago and his lawyers are worried the transfer won’t help in the healing process. But Reyes’s health has also been problematic.

Jailing these prominent personalities is a difficult balancing act for the anti-graft court. Napoles, Reyes and Enrile have legitimate health issues. The Sandiganbayan needs to assess well the seriousness of their health concerns to ensure that they won’t end up being treated differently from other prisoners.

With Napoles’s transfer, it is even good for the Sandiganbayan to look into the possibility of transferring Estrada, Revilla and the other respondents in the plunder case to an ordinary prison.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 26, 2014.

Opinion

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