Napoles lawyer reveals Malacañang involvement in transfer request

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Janet Lim Napoles (File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 19) — The lawyer of Janet Lim Napoles admits Malacañang played a role in its plea to move her from Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig to a new safe house.

The key figure in the alleged pork barrel scam filed motions at the Sandiganbayan seeking a custody transfer following her provisional admission to the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Witness Protection Program (WPP).

Before doing so, her lawyers apparently sought approval not just at the DOJ level, but up to Malacañang.

During a hearing on the motion on Monday, her lawyer Stephen David revealed in open court he met with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to discuss the matter.

"We are in a situation where we don't know what to do. Is she being immediately taken out of the facility, or shall we file a motion? That's why we have to consult people in authority as to what to do," he clarified.

In an interview, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte is not at all involved in the DOJ's dealings with Napoles.

David says he wanted Napoles to be moved immediately, and then just inform the court after the fact, but Medealdea advised him to seek the court's permission first.

The Sandiganbayan's 1st, 3rd, and 5th divisions will decide whether there is valid and sufficient reason to move Napoles out of her regular jail. These are the same divisions handling Napoles' plunder cases over an alleged pork barrel scam.

The Ombudsman's chief prosecutor opposed Napoles' plea, and questioned her provisional coverage under the WPP.

Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval said, "To me there's no such thing as provisional grant..how long? Can it be 10 years? One year? Supposed later on after about six months dineny [it was denied]? What will happen to the provisional admission?"

All three divisions gave the prosecution time to file their official opposition to Napoles' motion.

Napoles' lawyer meantime, claimed the motions were just a matter of courtesy as the DOJ can still have her moved even without the court's permission.

The DOJ is working with her in the reinvesitigation of the pork barrel scam, specifically looking into the involvement of allies of the Aquino administration.

"Ang process na yan nagstart pa during the term of Senator De Lima. May mga list noon kaya lang di namin maintindihan bakit andaming nakalista, bakit mga opposition lang ang na-file-an? Ano nangyari dun sa iba? So ngayon, tinutuloy lang ng present DOJ," David said.

[Translation: That process started during Senator De Lima's term. There was lists them, but we couldn't understand why it was only members of the opposition who had cases filed against them. What happened to the others? So no, it's just being continued by the current DOJ.]