DOJ opposes Napoles bid to transfer to government safe house

THE Department of Justice (DOJ), under the leadership of the newly-installed Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, is against the transfer of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles' custody from a detention facility in Camp Bagong Diwa to a safe house under the department's witness protection program (WPP).

In its comment on Napoles' motion to transfer custody, the DOJ said the inclusion of the latter under the WPP "does not confer upon her an actionable right to demand detention or custody under the aforesaid program."

The DOJ's comment, signed by Secretary Guevarra, was issued in compliance with the Sandiganbayan Third Division's directive to the Justice department to comment on Napoles' motion within 10 days.

The DOJ told the Sandiganbayan that Napoles' application for the full coverage of the program is still pending and has yet to be evaluated.

It also added that under Section 1 Article IX of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the RA 6981 or the Witness Protection and Benefit Security Act, the DOJ cannot take into its custody a witness who is detained for any unlawful cause.

"It appears herein that accused Napoles is under detention pursuant to a process issued by this Honorable Court. This factual circumstances shall be taken into account by the Department in the final resolution of accused Napoles' application for coverage under the subject program," the comment read.

Napoles was put under the provisional coverage of the WPP on February 27, 2018.

Days following her inclusion in the program, Napoles, citing threats to her life requested for transfer of her custody.

The Sandiganbayan First Division recently denied her plea for lack of merit.

Two divisions, namely the third and the fifth, where Napoles also have pending cases of plunder and graft for allegedly funneling P10 billion in lawmakers funds to bogus non-government organizations have yet to decide on Napoles' motion. (SunStar Philippines)


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