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Estrada comment sought regarding US travel


By Czarina Nicole Ong

The prosecution is urging former Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada to comment on their motion for reconsideration regarding his upcoming trip to the United States, and they want the Sandiganbayan to hold in abeyance his travel authority.

Jinggoy Estrada, (Mark Balmores / Manila Bulletin file photo)

Jinggoy Estrada (Mark Balmores / Manila Bulletin file photo)

In March, the Fifth Division allowed Estrada to travel to the US from April 30 to May 30, 2018 to attend the US Pinoy for Good Governance (USPGG) general membership meeting, have a medical consultation with an orthopedic surgeon, and enjoy some quality time with his family.

However, the USPGG later issued a statement on its website denying the invitation Estrada mentioned in his travel motion. “USPGG Willie Dechavez did not invite Jinggoy Estrada to speak in Michigan under USPGG nor is any program being planned by USPGG Michigan since Willie Dechavez is on vacation in the Philippines,” the statement read.

In response, the prosecution filed an MR and stated that Estrada “committed material misrepresentations in his motion,” thereby violating the terms and conditions of the court.

“Considering these issues that have been raised in his intended travel which essentially creates the impression that accused Estrada has made a mockery of this Honorable Court and the fact that the allegations in his motion are not fully substantiated, it is respectfully prayed that the Honorable Court hold in abeyance the release of the travel authority of accused Estrada pending his submission of sufficient proof that a general membership meeting will be held on May 30, 2018,” the MR read.

In the supplemental MR with prayer for a show cause order, the prosecution added that allowing Estrada to travel to the U.S. will make him “beyond the reach of the Honorable Court,” and he might resort to “a travesty of justice.”

They want him to be required to show cause why he should not be cited in contempt of court for using a falsified invitation letter. “If a person had in his possession a falsified document and he made use of it, taking advantage of it and profiting thereby – the clear presumption is that he is the material author of the falsification,” the prosecution added.

The court gave Estrada three days to make his comment.

Estrada was sent to jail over three years ago after he was charged with plunder in relation to the reportedly illegal use of his P183 million PDAF, which went to the fictitious nongovernment organizations (NGOs) owned by Janet Lim Napoles.

He was released from jail in September after he was allowed by the Sandiganbayan to post bail for his plunder charge. He posted bail amounting to P1,330,000 – P1 million for plunder, and P330,000 for his 11 graft charges.

For his travel bond, Estrada earlier posted P2.66 million. The P2 million is double the amount of bail for plunder that he posted, while the P660,000 is double the amount of bail for graft that he posted.

Since his release, he already went to Hong Kong for a family vacation and Singapore to accompany his father for medical treatment.

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