Napoles challenged to prove threats, harassment claims

MANILA The Sandiganbayan challenged jailed businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles on Monday to prove the alleged threats and harassment against her before it rules on her appeal to be transferred to the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Witness Protection Program (WPP).

Napoles is the alleged brains behind the PHP10-billion pork barrel and the PHP900-million Malampaya fund scams.

"Where is the evidence? Why is it that you are filing this motion?" Sandiganbayan Fifth Division Chairman Associate Justice Rafael Lagos asked Napoles' camp.

Napoles' legal counsel, lawyer Carlo Acasili, replied that the proceedings on the urgent motion of her client to be transferred to the WPP are "confidential", saying, "(The) DOJ may be in the best position to answer this matter."

"But you already alleged it. What's confidential about that? You have no proof to support your allegation of reported harassment?" Lagos said.

In her urgent motion, Napoles cited that "incidents of harassments, intimidation, and threats on her life and security, which could be avoided if the DOJ-WPP would be allowed to perform its mandate to protect accused-movant as a covered witness."

Napoles attached a certification from the DOJ stating that she has been provisionally admitted by the WPP as of Feb. 27, 2018.

Another counsel of Napoles, lawyer Stephen David, told the Sandiganbayan First Division that their motion is "only a matter of courtesy" for the Sandiganbayan, since the DOJ should already be acting on the transfer of Napoles to the WPP.

David said the jail cell of Napoles at Camp Bagong Diwa was ransacked recently, as unidentified suspects stole her laptop and documents vital to her defense.

He added the DOJ personnel gathering Napoles' affidavits on the multi-billion-peso scheme were also being harassed when they go to Camp Bagong Diwa.

David said Napoles' admission to the WPP would only be permanent if the DOJ finds her affidavit credible.

The Sandiganbayan First and Fifth Divisions gave the prosecution a period of 10 days from Monday, within which to formally file their comment or opposition on the motion.

Source: Philippine News Agency