MANILA Philippines—The drama between television host Kris Aquino and her former husband, basketball star James Yap, has turned even nastier.
Yap is now seeking to stop his 5-year-old son Bimby from leaving the country with his mother on March 23.
Yap’s lawyer, Lorna Kapunan, said she filed on Wednesday an “urgent” petition for a hold-departure order (HDO) on Bimby after they learned he was set to leave Saturday with Aquino for Paris, France.
Kapunan filed the HDO in Branch 144 of the Makati Regional Trial Court, the same court that granted Aquino’s request for a temporary protection order (TPO) against her ex-husband for alleged domestic violence.
In a phone interview, Kapunan said it was “usual” in cases of visitation and custody rights that an HDO be given by the court to protect the rights of a parent.
She said that before the latest episode in which Aquino sought and was given a TPO against Yap, the couple had agreed on the visitation rights of her client which was granted, along with the annulment of their marriage, by another branch of the Makati Regional Trial Court last year.
Yap was allowed to visit his son every Wednesday and Friday.
“You cannot take the child out of the jurisdiction of the court,” Kapunan said.
She said that Yap would oppose the 30-day TPO granted to Aquino who had also asked the court to make it permanent.
Under the TPO, Yap was ordered to stay away from Aquino, Bimby and any household member, keep a distance of at least 100 meters and to stay away from her residence, school, place of employment or any place frequented by her and her son.
Kapunan said the TPO that Aquino sought “has the effect of nullifying the other judgment of a coequal court” in this case the court that granted last year Aquino and Yap’s annulment as well as their compromise agreement on Yap’s visitation rights.
“Imagine the bad precedent if that is allowed,” Kapunan said, noting that the TPO requiring Yap to keep a distance of 100 meters from them was impossible “in a place like Manila.”
Yap hurt by allegation
Interviewed over Radyo Inquirer on Thursday, Kapunan said her client was hurt by Aquino’s allegation that Yap forced himself on the TV host in her condominium unit last December.
“If she felt she was violated on Dec. 3, why did she wait three months to complain?” Kapunan said.
Aquino could have also alerted her personal security and household help, Yap’s lawyer said. She said the TV host made up the allegation “to get a TPO.”
Kapunan said the allegation of Aquino’s lawyer, former Solicitor General Frank Chavez, that Yap had abandoned his parental authority over Bimby due to his infrequent visits to him was not true.
Yap’s lawyer said that whenever her client was up for a visit to his son, he would learn that his boy would be out of town or out of the country with his mother.
Whenever Aquino and her son were in the country, Aquino would schedule tutorials for Bimby on Yap’s visitation days, Kapunan said.
“So it is not his fault,” the lawyer said of her client.
Asked what could have triggered Aquino seeking a protection order against Yap, Kapunan said her client thought it had to do with his ex-wife’s bid last month to have him sign a consent form for her to adopt Bimby.
She said the annulment of the marriage of Aquino and Yap on the ground that the female minister who officiated the marriage lacked the authority to do so, rendered Bimby an illegitimate child.
Aquino as Bimby’s surname
“We cautioned the camp of Kris to advise her, what mother would want her child to be illegitimate? But her answer is ‘she did not want the name of Yap, ’” she said, adding that Aquino wanted Bimby to have Cojuangco-Aquino as his last name.
Aquino wanted to adopt her son now that he is of school age “because in law, any adopted child has the same rights of a legitimate child,” Kapunan said.
Aquino had asked for Yap’s consent to adopt their child because she could not adopt him without the consent of his biological parents, the lawyer said.
Kapunan said Aquino had told Yap that they could jointly adopt Bimby but this could not happen because they are not married to each other anymore.
She said Yap declined to sign the form when he learned that to do so meant he would also give up his visitation and parental rights.
“If you allow adoption, you relinquished all of your rights,” Kapunan said. “It’s like you’re saying ‘I’m no longer the father of Bimby.”’
So, it was this incident Yap thought had triggered his former wife’s hostility toward him. Aquino texted him after he declined to sign the adoption papers that he could no longer visit her home, Kapunan said. In addition, Bimby’s “yaya” did not pick up Yap’s calls.
Kapunan said they wrote Aquino if Yap could visit Bimby outside her residence. So on March 8, Yap was able to see his son for 10 minutes in the lobby of Aquino’s condominium building.
“This is not James vs Kris,” Kapunan said, adding that her client was just fighting for his right over Bimby as his father.
For his part, Chavez told the Inquirer they would mull over the weekend whether they would file a manifestation on the HDO being sought by Yap as it was “baseless” and would not prosper in court.
For one, Chavez said the HDO petition violated the three-day rule on filing of motions. The HDO petition was served Wednesday and Yap’s camp wanted a hearing SaturdaY.
Then the former solicitor general said there was the fact that
the judge was on leave and had set the hearing on the TPO on April 8 and 10 when they were requesting a hearing at the earliest on Saturday.
Chavez said an HDO was issued only for criminal cases but not for Aquino’s case, a civil one.
“An HDO is issued only in criminal case where the person is considered a flight risk and will leave the country without coming back,” he said in a phone interview.
But if the purpose of Yap’s petition was for the interest and welfare of the child, Chavez said it was then “an oxymoron.”
“The child wants to go to Disneyland Paris but the father does not want him to go,” he said.
Chavez added that Yap was the respondent in the TPO case and he was ordered by the court to stay away from Bimby for 30 days.
“This is baseless,” he said of the HDO. “They can always dream because there is no law against dreaming.”