Napoles’ lawyer Erwin Legaspi argued that the order shall be considered invalid since it was not signed by First Division chairman Associate Justice Efren de la Cruz but by the junior member, Associate Justice Edgardo Caldona.
Michael Varcas
Sandigan reiterates order for Janet Napoles transfer to correctional
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - January 5, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has reiterated its order for the transfer of convicted plunderer and mastermind of the pork barrel scam Janet Lim-Napoles to the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City.

In a short hearing yesterday morning, the anti-graft court’s First Division denied in open court the urgent motion of Napoles seeking to set aside the commitment order issued by the court last week.

Napoles’ lawyer Erwin Legaspi argued that the order shall be considered invalid since it was not signed by First Division chairman Associate Justice Efren de la Cruz but by the junior member, Associate Justice Edgardo Caldona.

Legaspi said the order violates the Sandiganbayan’s 2018 Revised Internal Rules, which states that writs and orders of the court shall be signed by the division chairman or, in his absence, by the most senior member of the division.

Serving as the First Division’s senior member is Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg.

Furthermore, Legaspi argued that Caldona was erroneously identified in the order as the court division’s chairman.

In its order dated Dec. 27, the First Division committed Napoles’ custody to CIW, a national penitentiary under the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

The court said Napoles failed to substantiate her claim that her transfer to CIW would put her life and security at risk.

De la Cruz pointed out that while the Sandiganbayan’s internal rules indeed state that writs and orders shall be signed by the division chairman or senior member, it also provides that the junior member may sign on the chairman’s behalf if the chairman or senior member are both on official leave.

It was revealed at the hearing that Napoles is still at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig, a special detention facility under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.  

This prompted De la Cruz to stress that the mittimus shall be enforced immediately.

Meanwhile, at the same hearing, the court has given the Office of the Ombudsman’s prosecution team 10 days to submit its comment on Napoles’ motion for reconsideration on her conviction.

The court said that after the prosecution’s submission of its comment, the motion is deemed submitted for resolution.

In her motion filed last week, Napoles, through her lawyers, said the acquittal of the primary accused, former senator Ramon Revilla Jr., consequently extinguished the crime as there can never exist a plunder offense without a “main plunderer.”

On Dec. 7, the Sandiganbayan Special First Division in a 3-2 vote had acquitted Revilla of a plunder case but convicted his former staff member Richard Cambe and the alleged pork scam mastermind Napoles.

Cambe and Napoles were sentenced to reclusion perpetua or a minimum of 20 years to a maximum 40 years imprisonment.

In a manifestation also filed last week, Cambe informed the First Division that he is appealing his conviction directly to the Supreme Court, insisting that the anti-graft court’s decision was “contrary to law and the evidence on record.”

CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION FOR WOMEN JANET LIM-NAPOLES SANDIGANBAYAN
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