Fugitive from justice: Pork scam defendant Relampagos jumps bail while in US
The Sandiganbayan has declared former Budget Undersecretary and pork barrel scam defendant Mario Relampagos a “fugitive from justice,” after he failed to return from his trip to United States last Jan. 1.
In minute resolutions made public Thursday, the court’s Seventh Division ordered Relampagos’ arrest and the forfeiture of P280,000 bail bond and P140,000 travel bond.
The antigraft court directed the Department of Foreign Affairs to cancel his passport (No. EC2419992), which was valid until Oct. 14, 2019.
State prosecutors were also ordered to initiate extradition proceedings for the official who was indicted for 313 counts of graft, malversation and malversation through falsification.
Relampagos’ lawyers, Godofredo de Guzman, Arnold Caga and Christopher John Lao, were ordered to explain why they should not be cited for contempt for failure to comply with their affidavit of undertaking they executed.
The Seventh Division handled Relampagos’s cases in connection with the alleged misuse of Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon and former Oriental Mindoro 1st Dist. Rep. Rodolfo Valencia’s P3-million and P6.51-million pork barrel proceeds.
Separately, the Second Division also ordered Relampagos arrested because of his failure, obviously, to attend the Jan. 12 pretrial hearing in the P9.6-million pork barrel scam case of former Ilocos Sur 1st Dist. Rep. Salacnib Baterina.
In a manifestation, his lawyers explained that Relampagos called them on Jan. 2, hours after the expiration of his travel authority, to say he could not endure the burden of the “unconscionable” number of his pending cases and the resulting drain on his financial resources.
“Mr. Relampagos explained that he can no longer bear what he perceives as extreme injustice… which has brought and will continue to bring unimaginable burden on his family and himself,” the lawyers said. “According to him, there seems to be no end in sight anymore for his ordeal.”
“He laments that as a result of the persecution suffered, he has lost all trust in the justice system,” read the manifestation filed by the De Guzman Dionido Caga Jucaban and Associates Law Offices.
The law firm said it was still trying to convince him to come home.
Relampagos was permitted by the court to leave the country from Dec. 2, 2017 to Jan. 1, 2018 to attend the annual meeting of The International Consortium on Governmental Financial Management in Washington, D.C., and to visit his daughter and granddaughters in Las Vegas.
In seeking travel permission, Relampagos stressed he had “no derogatory record of not keeping a promise, jumping bail, and the like or not honoring any orders of this Honorable Court.”
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