Erap Hands off on Jimenez Case

Article excerpt

CEBU CITY (DPA) -- President Joseph Estrada yesterday kept his hands off a United States appeal to the Supreme Court to reverse a ruling that would give US fugitive Mark Jimenez access to extradition documents and prior notice in case of his arrest.

"Much as I want to react, it is very clear in our Constitution that there is a separation of powers between the executive and judiciary," Estrada said.

"Let the Supreme Court justices and the Supreme Court...let them do the fighting in exchanging words," Estrada said.

Manila newspapers reported Sunday that the US Justice Department has formally appealed to the Supreme Court to reverse its earlier decision, noting that the ruling "undermines the ability of the Philippines to discharge its obligations under the extradition to surrender fugitives".

"Due process does not require that a person facing the imposition of criminal charges in the United States be given advance notice and the opportunity to persuade the government not to bring charges against him," according to the US Justice Department memo.

The memo was reported to have been attached in support of a motion for reconsideration filed by the Philippine Justice Department, which is also appealing for a reversal of the Supreme Court ruling.

Jimenez is facing charges of conspiracy, wire and mail fraud, tax evasion and illegal campaign contributions to the Democratic Party during the 1996 elections.

A close associate of Estrada, Jimenez flew to the Philippines apparently to avoid criminal charges and was appointed presidential adviser for Latin American affairs. Jimenez, however, vacated his post after controversy over the charges he faces erupted in the Philippine media.

Last year, US Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Louis Freeh visited the Philippines and urged the government to hasten the extradition of Jimenez.

Tatad

Sen. Francisco S. Tatad expressed fears yesterday that any undue delay in the implementation of the RP-US extradition treaty could set back the war on global crime and unduly hamper relations between the two countries at a ime when they need to be strengthened.

Tatad, chairman of the Senate committee on foreign relations, expressed the hope that the Supreme Court would see the error of its original ruling which has effectively delayed the extradition proceedings against Mark Jimenez, and act promptly to correct it. …