Napoles safehouse bid denied as DOJ re-evaluates her WPP coverage

MANILA, Philippines – The 3rd division of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has denied the appeal of alleged pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim Napoles to be transferred to a safehouse, ending all hopes for now that she could be transferred out of her regular jail in Camp Bagong Diwa.

The Third Division denied her motion after it found the evidence of supposed threats to Napoles' life as insufficient.

"The Court does not find any valid reason to allow the transfer of custody of accused Napoles to another facility or agency," said the resolution dated May 3 and released to media on Thursday, May 10.

Before the Third Division, the First and Fifth Divisions had already denied the motion. Napoles is on trial for plunder over the pork barrel scam in the 3 divisions, so all of them would have to sign off on the transfer before it could happen.

The final denial seals the unfavorable deal for Napoles.

What happens now? 

Napoles is now counting on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to finalize her provisional Witness Protection Program (WPP) coverage, or at least extend it.

The provisional coverage given to her by resigned justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II will end on May 26.

DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they are re-evaluating the deal. (READ: Stephen David using Palace connections for Napoles?)

"It depends, because there are certain factors to consider, like, is there a continuing threat to security? Is she filing a new complaint against anyone for which she needs protection? Those are the things we need to consider," Guevarra said.

Napoles was admitted to the WPP on the promise that she would reveal more of what she knows in the pork barrel scam. This served Aguirre's reinvestigation that targeted allies of the Aquino administration.

Status of the reinvestigation remains unclear because the head of the DOJ panel, Undersecretary Antonio Kho, has resigned following Guevarra's revamp in the DOJ. The justice secretary, who was previously deputy to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, had asked Aguirre's hires to resign.

"I'm not saying that the people there who are incumbent are not competent, or are without integrity, I'm not saying that. I'm just saying I need people who I have personally worked with and who I know the work ethics," Guevarra said. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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