Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice and 3rd Division Chairperson Amparo Cabotaje-Tang is seeking approval from the Supreme Court to hold hearings on Janet Lim-Napoles’ bail petition at the anti-graft court instead of conducting the same at the correctional where she is detained.
The Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 150 earlier committed Napoles to the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong after she was found guilty of serious illegal detention and sentenced to life imprisonment.
“You will recall that in the plunder case that is pending before the 3rd division, we have required the personal presence of Mrs. Napoles in the bail hearing,” Tang said in a press conference.
Napoles twice asked to be excused from the proceedings citing physical and mental fatigue, but the court denied her requests.
“So there is an imperative need for the court to secure approval because that is what the Supreme Court circular says, that only the Supreme Court can allow the transfer of a national prisoner from a national penitentiary to any other place such as this court,” Tang explained.
On Monday, she sent a letter to the SC en banc through Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to secure the said approval, which the high tribunal may grant when the conduct of proceedings at the national penitentiary would be impractical.
Under the circular, those sentenced from three years up, regardless of appeal, are considered national prisoners. Convicted women are to be transferred to the said correctional in Mandaluyong, which is under the Bureau of Corrections.
Tang pointed out that there are voluminous documents in the possession of the prosecution and it would be “cumbersome” for the court to transport these every time it conducts a hearing.
“Apart from that, there is always a serious concern for the security of the Justices from traveling every so often from the Court to the correctional institution in Mandaluyong,” she said.
Napoles is facing a plunder case before the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division in connection with the pork barrel scam as Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s co-accused.
She has a pending bail petition being heard once a week by the said division of the anti-graft court.