Tuesday 22 January, 2019
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Pati trial, kailangan stateside? Napoles kids seek court nod to stay in US indefinitely

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The children of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles have sought the Sandiganbayan’s permission to be allowed to stay in the United States indefinitely, so they can face trial in that jurisdiction instead of here.

Jo Christine and James Christopher Napoles, in their 4-page motion before the 3rd Division, asked to be allowed to leave the country for Orange County, California, on Nov. 15.

But, unlike other graft suspects who usually leave the country for a maximum of one month, the Napoleses did not state a return date.

They requested to be allowed to leave “until such time that the case pending before the United States District Court be terminated.”

On top of this unheard-of request, the Napoleses asked that the hold departure order against them be “momentarily lifted”—something not done even for high-profile public officials.

Even more, they asked for exemption from the requirement to post a travel bond.

Since they face 97 counts each of graft and malversation, or a total of 194 charges, in connection with the P900-million Malampaya fund scam, the travel bond added up to P5.58 million.

The Napoleses complained that the amount was “overwhelmingly huge,” especially since they already posted an equivalent amount of bail.

But, the motion stressed: “Accused-Movants strongly assure this Honorable Court that they will return to the Philippines, not only to bolster their innocence, but also to perform their duties as accused in this case.”

The charges in the Sandiganbayan concerned the alleged diversion of discretionary funds to ghost projects by fraudulent foundations linked to Janet Lim-Napoles in 2009.

The Napoles siblings were accused of helping their fabricate the assistance request letters of the mayors of 97 municipalities and cities in Luzon which were devastated by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.

They were also indicted by the United States Department of Justice for domestic and international money laundering, in connection with the amounts allegedly pocketed in a P10-billion scheme involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations of dozens of legislators.

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