Napoles refuses to enter plea in illegal detention case
MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles has refused to enter a plea during her arraignment at the Makati Regional Trial Court today.
In a text message earlier in the day, lawyer Lorna Kapunan told ABS-CBNnews.com entering a plea would mean waiving her right to a case at the Court of Appeals questioning the decision of the lower court.
This means that “the RTC judge automatically enters a plea of not guilty [for Napoles],” she said.
Kapunan filed a petition before the appellate court in August that questioned the warrant of arrest the trial court issued against Napoles and her brother, Reynald, who remains at large.
She said the trial court judge, Elmo Alameda, committed grave abuse of discretion for not giving Napoles due process.
Kapunan believes that even if they won’t be able to secure a halt order from the Court of Appeals, they will be able to get one from the Supreme Court.
Even then, “I am 110 percent sure, even if we lose in the Court of Appeals, we will win in the Supreme Court,” she told ABS-CBN’s Bottomline.
“You know what’s unfair, while 31 or 32 others [respondents in plunder charge] are out, she is in detention for something not related to plunders. That’s why we’re trying to get her out…[The arrest and consequent detention] is one clear instance that they goofed and they goofed badly,” Kapunan said.
Early on Monday, Kapunan also filed a motion seeking to have the case be heard instead at Fort Sto. Domingo in Laguna, where Napoles is currently detained.
“The production of Janet Lim Napoles before the Makati RTC will unnecessarily expose her life and security to grave and imminent danger more so now that plunder charges have been filed against many influential elected officials,” their petition read.
The Makati court said the hearings on the serious illegal detention case will continue right in Makati sans any ruling from the Supreme Court.
In an interview with ANC, Branch 150 clerk of court Diosfa Valencia said the respondent should appeal to the SC for the transfer of the hearings. In the meantime, “she will already be waiving her appearance [here].”
The Napoles camp has also filed a bail petition, which will be heard on September 27 at 9:00 a.m.
Napoles was immediately escorted back to Fort Sto. Domingo after the arraignment.