Sandigan division denies Dennis Cunanan’s travel bid anew
MANILA, Philippines–Despite favorable decisions from two other divisions, the Sandiganbayan Third Division denied the travel bid of former Technology Resource Center (TRC) head Dennis Cunanan as he faces graft charges over the pork barrel scam.
In a resolution, the anti-graft court junked for lack of merit Cunanan’s travel motion to Missouri, USA, from December 29 to January 20, 2015.
This even as the anti-graft court’s First and Fifth Divisions granted the same motion.
The Third Division said Cunanan failed to show the urgency for him to travel abroad to fulfill his duties as the secretary general of the Junior Chambers International (JCI).
Cunanan claimed the JCI World President directed him to report to the JCI World Headquarters anytime on December “to attend to pressing organizational concerns, personally prepare and submit the administrative and financial reports of JCI for the year 2014” as well as to “attend and prepare the world headquarters for the 2015 Annual January Board Meeting.”
Cunanan said his presence is critical to the JCI, but the court said Cunanan “has not presented the necessity or urgency of his intended travel.”
“While the accused-movant has a personal interest to protect in reporting to the JCI Headquarters in the USA, this personal interest cannot override the Court’s inherent power to preserve and to maintain the effectiveness of its jurisdiction over these cases and over the person of the accused,” the resolution read.
The court also said Cunanan is a flight risk because he faces seven counts of graft in all three divisions hearing the pork barrel scam cases.
“The Court is of the view that the above circumstances constitute strong and compelling reasons for accused-movant not to return to the country if allowed to travel abroad,” the court said.
Cunanan had filed the travel bid claiming his position in JCI is his only source of income after he resigned from the TRC at the height of the scandal.
He also said he had always returned in the country even as his charges were being investigated by the Ombudsman.
State prosecutors had opposed Cunanan’s motion, saying he failed to show the urgency of his travel motion. They also said the JCI was able to show that it could cope without Cunanan.
Cunanan is accused of using TRC, of which he was a former director general, as a conduit between lawmakers and accused mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles’ bogus foundations to earn kickbacks.
As provisional state witness, Cunanan has testified that Senators Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. called him up personally to funnel their pork barrel funds to Napoles’ foundations. Estrada and Revilla, as well as Juan Ponce Enrile, are all detained for plunder over the scam.
The Ombudsman had junked Cunanan’s plea for immunity from charges.
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