In an opposition paper filed yesterday, the ombudsman’s Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) urged the Sandiganbayan First Division to deny Napoles’ urgent motion to remain at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Female Dormitory inside Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
Boy Santos
Ombudsman pushes Napoles’ transfer to Correctional
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - December 14, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — State prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman yesterday maintained that detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles must already be transferred to a national prison facility under the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) following her conviction for plunder in connection with the multibillion-peso pork barrel fund scam.

In an opposition paper filed yesterday, the ombudsman’s Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) urged the Sandiganbayan First Division to deny Napoles’ urgent motion to remain at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Female Dormitory inside Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

The prosecution said Napoles failed to substantiate her claim in her motion that her impending transfer to the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City, a facility under BuCor, would put her life at risk.

“Convict Napoles neither showed nor submitted any proof of the alleged threats to her life and security, due to her involvement in high profile cases involving high-ranking public officials, while in detention,” the prosecution’s paper read.

The prosecution also cited the Supreme Court’s Administrative Circular No. 26-2000 which directs all trial court judges to issue a mittimus or commitment order to enforce the transfer of all convicted prisoners, sentenced to imprisonment of more than three years, to national penitentiary under the BuCor. 

Under the SC circular, all trial judges concerned must issue the mittimus “immediately” after the prisoners’ conviction “whether or not they (prisoners) have appealed” the court’s verdict.

Furthermore, the prosecution noted that Napoles’ motion, filed on Dec. 7, does not bear any Notice of Hearing, thus it is considered “a mere scrap of paper” that does not deserve the court’s consideration.

The prosecution pointed out that under Sections 4 and 5, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court, a movant must always set the time and place of the hearing of a motion in order to provide due process to both the prosecution and the defense. 

“A motion without notice of hearing is pro forma, a mere scrap of paper...The court has no reason to consider it and the clerk [of court] has no right to receive it,” the prosecution said, quoting a previous SC ruling.

On Friday last week, the Sandiganbayan Special First Division convicted Napoles in connection with the alleged misuse of about P517 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of former senator Ramon Revilla Jr.

Convicted with Napoles was Revilla’s former staff member Richard Cambe. They were sentenced to reclusion perpetua or a minimum of 20 years to a maximum 40 years of imprisonment.

Revilla, the primary accused in the case, was acquitted. The court said “not a single evidence” was presented by the prosecution to prove that he received rebates, commissions or kickbacks for the allocation of his PDAF to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) owned by Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork scam.

Hours after Napoles and Cambe’s conviction, the First Division ordered their transfer of detention to Correctional Institutional for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City and New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, respectively. However, no enforceable commitment order was issued within the day.

In a minute-resolution dated Dec. 7 but released to the media only on Wednesday, the First Division said it is temporarily suspending the issuance of a mittimus or commitment order with respect to Napoles to give due course to her urgent motion.

In her motion, Napoles, through her lawyers, manifested that she will be filing a motion for reconsideration on her conviction. Napoles said that while she is appealing her conviction, the First Division must allow her to remain at Camp Bagong Diwa as it is a more secure facility.

“This plea is in light with the development of her entire cases which greatly affect her life and security. Her cases are considered high-profile due to involvement of high-ranking public officials,” Napoles’ motion read.

“It must be stressed that during Accused’s previous detention at the Correctional Institution for Women, she had already experienced these threats to her life and security,” it added.

Aside from her recent conviction, Napoles is also named as co-accused in the plunder cases of former senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile still in connection with the pork barrel scam.

She is also facing 194 criminal cases as co-accused in the P900-million Malampaya fund scam filed by the ombudsman in December 2017.

Revilla won’t pay

Revilla yesterday maintained that he will not return a single centavo to the government as the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has ruled that he is innocent of any involvement in the multibillion-peso pork barrel fund scam.

“What should I return to the government? I stole nothing from the country. In fact, the court has already made its decision, it ruled that I am innocent,” Revilla said in Filipino at a press conference in Makati City yesterday.

Revilla, who is seeking a Senate comeback in the 2019 midterm elections, reiterated his previous claim that the plunder case lodged against him by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2014 was a product of political persecution under the previous administration.

“We all knew where it (plunder case) all started. It was because of politics, when it was reported that I intend to seek higher position. I just hope other politicians would not experience what I’ve been through. It was really painful, especially for my family,” Revilla said.

Filed by the ombudsman in June 2014, the plunder case against Revilla stemmed from the alleged misuse of P517 million of his PDAF for supposed livelihood and agricultural projects which turned out to be never implemented. 

The ombudsman said Revilla, through his then staff member Cambe, received a total of P224.5 million in kickbacks or commissions from the alleged mastermind Napoles in exchange for the allocation of his PDAF to Napoles’ bogus NGOs.

In a vote of 3-2, the Sandiganbayan Special First Division on Friday last week acquitted Revilla of the case but convicted his co-accused Napoles and Cambe.

Revilla said that if re-elected in the Senate, he will push for a bill that would punish “false accusers.” 

“Included in my legislative agenda is a measure against false accusers. We should have a countermeasure against them as this practice of filing false, unsubstantiated charges needs to stop,” he said in Filipino. 

Revilla, chairman of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD), said he will be a guest candidate of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago, a local political party founded by presidential daughter, Davao City mayor Sara Duterte early this year.

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