Gatchalian confident of acquittal over bank buyout despite HDO
MANILA — Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said on Wednesday that the Sandiganbayan’s issuance of a hold departure order against him was “expected” as a matter of procedure and should not be viewed as a barometer of the strength of the case against him over a bank buyout.
“The release of a Hold Departure Order (HDO) is purely a matter of course which is to be expected after the filing of an information before the Sandiganbayan. It is merely to ensure that the accused remain within the jurisdiction of the court during the duration of the proceedings,” said Gatchalian.
“The release of an HDO does not indicate that the case is particularly strong. It is a purely procedural order which does not speak on the merits of the case. In many cases, the court will still allow the accused to leave the country for legitimate reasons if he files the proper motion,” he said.
Gatchalian is among 26 individuals now barred from leaving the country on orders of the anti-graft court, as they faced trial over an allegedly anomalous deal between the Express Savings Bank, Inc. (ESBI) and the Local Water Utilities Administration. Under the deal, the LWUA bought the ESBI, an insolvent bank.
Gatchalian, including several members of his family, were tagged in the questioned P780-million transaction, as the family owns The Wellex Group Inc., a corporate stockholder of ESBI.
The neophyte senator had earlier denied his involvement in any wrongdoing, saying he was not involved in the transaction and that he was a minor stockholder in the bank.
In a statement on his indictment last week, Gatchalian vowed to cooperate with the proceedings and expressed confidence that he would be acquitted. SFM
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