Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday revealed that relatives of suspected pork barrel scam architect Janet Lim-Napoles—who had been indicted for conspiring to commit money laundering amounting to $20 million in the United States—are still in the country.
However, Guevarra said the Bureau of Immigration has informed him that Napoles’ daughter Jeane Catherine left the country last July 27.
Also indicted by the US Department of Justice for laundering funds derived from anomalies involving the pork barrel funds of lawmakers were her other children Jo Christine and James Christopher, her brother Reynald Lim and his wife Ana.
US prosecutors said the money was used to purchase assets in the States, including property and luxury vehicles.
The Justice Secretary said the BI was not able to provide details of Jeane Catherine’s records.
Meanwhile, Malacañang said it recognizes the US indictment of Napoles.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque viewed the federal charges against Napoles and her relatives as a positive development “as it bolsters the government’s case against her before the Sandiganbayan.”
“The charge of money laundering against Mrs. Napoles and her co-defendants shows that there is a reason to believe that they attempted to retain the ill-gotten gains from the PDAF scam,” said Roque in a statement issued Thursday night.
“With the help of US authorities, who have been in continuous coordination with our government, the funds that Mrs. Napoles and her co-defendants attempted to hide away will soon be returned for the benefit of the Filipino people,” he added.
The indictment of Napoles and her family by a US grand jury is a result of the coordination of the DoJ and the Ombudsman with the US Government during the time the pork barrel investigations were being undertaken, said Sen. Leila de Lima.
De Lima, who was Justice secretary at the time, said this is welcome news since the Duterte administration has made it a point instead to release plunderers and partner with them instead of prosecuting them, Napoles included.
“We must only remember that it was the Duterte government through SolGen Calida who had Napoles acquitted from kidnapping charges on appeal and eyed her as a state witness in the PDAF cases pending with the Sandiganbayan,” said De Lima.
The detained senator was at the helm of DoJ when Napoles and her co-accused, which included former and incumbent lawmakers, were investigated in connection with the multi-billion pork barrel scam.
“At least, with the US indictment of Napoles and her family, we can at least rely on justice being done for us in another country while injustice continues to reign in our own,” she said.
Opposition Senator Francis Pangilinan said the US indictment of Napoles and family is a clear repudiation of the current government’s efforts through then-Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre to rehabilitate Napoles and use her against uncooperative legislators.
Its “partnership with plunderers and corrupt politicians notwithstanding,” Pangilinan said there is still “that silver lining that makes us hope that if not now, then someday, all of the plundering thieves that Duterte has rescued from ignominy will still face justice.”