Napoles children ask court permission to stay in U.S. indefinitely
MANILA, Philippines – The children of alleged pork barrel scam queen Janet Napoles have requested permission from the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to fly to the US, but with a catch: there are no return tickets.
In a motion filed before the court’s 3rd Division, Jo Christine and James Cristopher Napoles asked to fly to the US on November 15 “until such time that the case pending before the U.S District Court be terminated.”
They are referring to their indictment by the US justice department for domestic and international money laundering, connected to money earned from the pork barrel scam which were allegedly transferred to the family’s US bank accounts.
Jo Christine and James Cristopher were indicted early August, along with youngest child Jeane Catherine, their mother Janet, and relatives Reynald Luy Lim and Ana Marie Lim.
The siblings are facing graft and malversation charges connected to the Malampaya fund scam, and are out on bail. They need the court’s authority every time they travel out of the country.
But in the siblings’ 3-page motion, there was no mention of any summons by any US authorities.
Attached in the motion is a letter from the Napoleses’ US lawyers saying that “in order to defend the criminal case, both James and Jo Christine would be required to appear in the United States and be arraigned on the criminal indictment.”
“The case would then be scheduled for motions and a trial date. Given the complexity of the case and the nature of the charges, we would anticipate that it would take a minimum of 12 months to defend the case at trial, during which time James Napoles and Jo Christine Napoles would most likely be either detained without bond or restricted not to travel outside of the Philippines,” said American lawyer Patrick Hall.
Hall added: “In other words, the United States Court would most likely not permit their return to the Philippines until the case was concluded.”
Earlier, Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, also the chair of the 3rd Division, said the court holds jurisdiction over a person “until the termination of the case.”
That statement, however, referred specifically to Janet Napoles, who is detained for plunder.
Also referring to Janet Napoles, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier said the Philippines is unlikely to extradite the businesswoman until the cases here are still pending.
Because the Napoles children are out on bail, and the law allows for travel authorities to defendants out on bail, the Sandiganbayan 3rd Division must now decide if they’re going to let the children stay in the US indefinitely.
“This Motion is made in good faith…and considering that the accused are not blight risks, it is most respectfully requested that this motion be given due course."
Jeane Catherine was already cleared by the Court of Tax Appeals, and can travel freely. – Rappler.com