The preliminary investigation into the $1 million estafa complaint filed by the influential Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) against Grammy-winner Chris Brown will proceed even if the American R&B singer has already left the country last Friday.
This was assured by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima days after Brown, whose real name is Christopher Maurice Brown, was given clearance to leave the country by the Bureau of Immigration last Friday after securing an Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC).
Brown’s promoter, John Michael Pio Roda was, however, not allowed to leave the country.
De Lima pointed out that the investigation may proceed even if Brown opts not to participate since such proceeding is “not a compulsory process”.
“Of course the PI will proceed (whether he’s around or not) since there is a complaint. It will have to go through the process,” the Justice Secretary explained.
“Yes, he may ignore the subpoena,” she said.
Since Brown has already chosen to leave the country before the subpoena was issued against him, De Lima said Brown’s flight is considered a waiver of their right to answer the allegations in the complaint.
The DOJ chief further assured that legal measures are available if in case the prosecutor decides to file the case in court.
“These is a process. If in the PI level, probable cause is established then the case will be filed in court, which cannot proceed without the presence of the accused. There are modes on how to bring the accused here like the MLAT (Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty) or extradition,” she explained.
De Lima further explained that estafa by swindling such as the case against Brown and Roda may have both criminal and civil aspects.
For the criminal aspect, she explained that the intent to defraud on the part of the respondents must be established.
“But in estafa cases the main objective is how to recover the money so there is also civil aspect that may involve recovery of money via civil suit,” she added.
But de Lima clarified that such scenario is “preemptive” at this point as it is “getting ahead of all things in the case.”
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SOURCE: Manila Bulletin