Three senators next?

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Sunday, July 27, 2014


THERE is no more special treatment for Janet Lim Napoles.

The woman who is accused of amassing billions of pesos from pork barrel funds has been ordered transferred from police custody in Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna to that of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in the Camp Bagong Diwa jail in Taguig City.

It was the Sandiganbayan that ordered the transfer, rectifying an obvious irregular situation that had Napoles housed in a special detention facility while awaiting trial for the kidnapping charges leveled against her and her brother by whistleblower and former accomplice Benhur Luy.

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The Makati Regional Trial Court, which is trying the kidnap case, had ordered Napoles’ detention in Fort Sto. Domingo because of the claim by her lawyers and by the police of the gravity and imminence of danger to her life if she were to be incarcerated in an ordinary jail.

The Sandiganbayan’s Third Division, which drew the assignment of one of Napoles’s plunder cases, would have none of that, however, citing a rule that says that accused persons should be detained in a jail nearest the court. Fort Sto. Domingo is not a jail.

The government has spent and continues to spend hundreds of thousands of pesos to keep Napoles in Sto. Domingo and to bring her to Metro Manila for her court and Senate appearances. Notwithstanding this, the police appeared to favor a last-ditch attempt by her lawyers to keep her in Laguna, claiming that out of respect for the Makati RTC, they have to wait for official word from the latter before they could carry out the transfer.

They later relented, saying that that if the BJMP visited their camp and claimed custody of Napoles, they would willingly turn her over to them. So unless Napoles suddenly develops chest pains, hypertention, bleeding or some other physical disorder that the rich and the famous suddenly develop when faced with the possibility of being jailed, she should be in an ordinary jail on Monday at the latest.

The next question is, will the Sandiganbayan apply the same principle to the other accused like Sens. Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla and Juan Ponce Enrile, who are all detained inside a police camp? The police custodial center is not under the control of the BJMP and therefore does not qualify as a jail. If the Court were to evenly apply the rule that it cited in ordering the transfer of Napoles to an ordinary jail, it may have to order the relocation of the three senators as well.
As they say in the Tagalog komiks, abangan.

***

In one of the first meetings I had with her and Tommy in the eighties, Cebu City Councilor Margot Osmeña promised me a scoop: I would be the first media person to know if they had produced a sibling to Miguel. Some 15 years later, when I bumped into her and a mutual friend at the lobby of an uptown hotel, she told me I was not going to have my scoop. “Plant closed,” she guffawed.

Now I learned that Miguel gave them a granddaughter instead. Tommy is 66 and Margot 65 but it is never too late to be a grandparent. Neither is it too early; I was 46 when my eldest grandson was born.

Margot is excited about her Anna Margarita Victoria and it is probably because of this that she has of late been more frequently hinting at retirement from public service. Alas, the excitement about life after politics being spent with the newest member of the family had taken a perverse spin: that Margot was resigning to pave the way for Tommy to take her seat at the city council.

Ah, politics. (frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 27, 2014.

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