The Sandiganbayan on Wednesday granted the husband of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo permission to travel to Japan and Hong Kong next month despite the prosecution’s objections.
The former first gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, however, was directed to post a P90,000 bond before leaving.
Arroyo had filed a motion with the antigraft court for permission to travel, explaining that he was scheduled to meet with businessmen involved in hydroelectric operations and to get some much needed rest.
He said his trip had the approval of his wife and co-accused in the case alleging irregularities in a multimillion-peso deal with China’s ZTE corporation for the establishment of a national broadband network (NBN) in the country.
Former President Arroyo is currently under hospital arrest for another case—electoral sabotage, which is a nonbailable offense.
Mike Arroyo is scheduled to leave for Japan on May 3 then to fly to Hong Kong on May 6 before returning to the Philippines on May 10.
Arroyo vowed to come home on the scheduled date. He told reporters he was entitled to the presumption of innocence while the graft case was being heard, and still had the constitutional right to travel.
“I’m not a flight risk. I will return. It will be just for a week,” he said.
“I have the permission of my wife,” he said, after being asked about his leaving his wife behind.
In Japan, Arroyo is set to speak before the Filipino community in Edogawa-Ku in Tokyo on May 5. He will also meet with Japanese businessmen involved in hydroelectric operations. He said he would try to talk them into investing in the country.
The trip to Hong Kong, he said, was for rest and recreation.
“I also need to relax,” he said.
His lawyer, Edna Herrera-Batacan, said the former first gentleman has suffered so much political pressure, and also wants to get away from Manila’s summer heat.
Earlier, the prosecution objected to Arroyo’s motion to travel on the ground that his trip was not an urgent matter and because he failed to provide his schedule of activities.
The Arroyos have denied any wrongdoing in the NBN-ZTE deal. Other co-accused in the case are former elections chief Benjamin Abalos and former Transportation and Communication Secretary Leandro Mendoza.
The ZTE-NBN deal was eventually canceled amid allegations of bribery and overpricing.
Meanwhile, prosecutors yesterday opposed former president Arroyo’s motion for the prosecution to produce for inspection the material evidence they have against her so she could prepare for the pre-trial.