Sandiganbayan grants Bacolod mayor leave for HK trip amid graft rap
The Sandiganbayan has allowed Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella to travel to Hong Kong even as he faces graft raps for the alleged purchase of overpriced computers.
In a resolution dated Jan. 12, the anti-graft court Fourth Division allowed Puentevella to travel to Hong Kong from Jan. 21 to Jan. 25.
Since Puentevella has yet to retrieve his previous travel bond on his trip to Singapore, which the court also allowed, the court allowed him to use the same for his latest trip to Hong Kong.
The court also required him to make a personal appearance in court upon his return.
In his motion for leave, Puentevella told the court he was chosen as a principal sponsor for the wedding of Catherine Sofia Francisco Herrera and Herbert Chan Hung, on Jan. 24, 6 p.m. at the Conrad Hotel, Hong Kong.
Puentevella said he has been friends with Herrera since 2001.
Puentevella maintained that he is not a flight risk, and that he has previously abided with the earlier court orders allowing his travel.
He said he would be staying at Prince Hotel, Marco Polo. He even provided his mobile number and e-mail address in the motion.
Puentevella also said he has already requested authority to travel from the Department of Interior and Local Government.
The prosecution opposed the motion, saying the court has no jurisdiction outside the Philippines. It added that the right to travel for the accused is not absolute.
But the court chose to grant Puentevella’s motion despite the prosecution’s objection.
The court earlier denied Puentevella’s request to go to Zurich, Switzerland to attend the 65th Fédération Internationale de Football Association (Fifa) Congress. Puentevella had said his attendance is necessary for his reappointment to Fifa’s marketing and TV committee to ensure a Philippine representative in Fifa.
Puentevella is accused of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for the alleged irregular purchase of IT packages for public elementary and secondary schools in the city using his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
The prosecution accused Puentevella of purchasing without public bidding allegedly overpriced computer packages worth P400,000 each or a total of P26 million from Merryland Publishing Corp. when he was a congressman.
Puentevella served as Bacolod City representative from 2001 to 2010. CDG
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