Anti-graft court allows Tawi-Tawi solon to join Rome peace talks
MANILA — The Sandiganbayan has allowed Tawi-Tawi Rep. Ruby Sahali-Tan to join the third round of peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Rome this week.
In a two-page minute resolution, the court permitted the lawmaker to leave the country from Jan. 17 to 30 to join the members of the House Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, which she chairs.
The approval of Tan’s request came despite opposition by state prosecutors.
Prior to her travel, Tan went through a conditional arraignment and pleaded not guilty to six counts of violating Section 8 of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees for failing to abide by asset disclosure rules. She also posted a travel bond of P60,000.
Tan will be in Rome from Jan. 18 to 25 to attend the peace negotiations with the NDFP. From Jan. 26 to Jan. 29, she will join her fellow lawmakers in France to meet officials of the Philippine Embassy, as well as the Filipino communities there. She is scheduled to return to Manila in the afternoon of Jan. 30.
The court required Tan to present herself in person to the division clerk of court within five days of her return to show her passport.
Any material misrepresentation in her travel motion would be punished as contempt of court, the resolution warned. The court added that it could forfeit the travel bond and order her arrest in case of non-compliance with the requirements.
Tan was accused of failing to file her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) under oath or on time when she was the vice-governor of Tawi-Tawi from 2008 to 2013.
When she requested travel permission last week, she also informed the court of her plan to question the validity of her indictment by the Office of the Ombudsman in Mindanao. Tan said she would an omnibus motion for the judicial determination of probable cause. SFM/rga