Mike Arroyo seeks court leave for one-month travel abroad
Former First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo has again asked the Sandiganbayan for leave for a month-long travel to different countries this May even as he faces multiple graft charges over a 2009 helicopter mess.
In his motion for leave filed before the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division, the husband of former president now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo asked for the court’s nod to travel to Europe, particularly Spain, France, Denmark, Norway, Hungary, Czech Republic and Italy, from May 15 to June 17.
He included in his travel motion the different hotels he would be staying in and the dates of departure from and arrival in Manila.
Arroyo said he had always been allowed by the court to travel and he had always returned with no intention to flee the charges against him.
“He has always returned here as it is here where his family and business interests are, hence, he has no reason not to return. He is, thus, clearly not a flight risk,” Arroyo said through his lawyers.
Arroyo said that despite facing charges, he “enjoys the right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise” and thus enjoys the “constitutional right to travel.”
He said he was ready to submit himself to any conditions of the court for his travel.
In the Seventh Division, the former first gentleman faces a graft trial as he stands accused of selling two second-hand helicopters to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and passing it off as new in 2009.
He faces the graft raps with retired PNP Chief Jesus Verzosa.
Arroyo has denied owning the two Robinsons R44 Raven I helicopters supposedly used by his wife in the 2004 presidential elections.
He and his wife former president Gloria Arroyo were acquitted last year of graft over the allegedly anomalous $329 million National Broadband Network (NBN) deal with Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE.
Arroyo was then accused of facilitating the allegedly overpriced deal and using his influence as first gentleman. The court threw out the case because the prosecution failed to prove that his wife had a financial interest in the project, bolstered by the fact that she canceled the project in 2007.
The court also said then-president Arroyo could not be held liable for breaching the code of ethics when she had lunch and played golf with ZTE officials in China, because there was no proof Arroyo was a recipient.
The former president was detained for four years at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center for plunder over a P366 million charity intelligence funds mess.
Arroyo walked free in July last year after the Supreme Court junked the plunder case for insufficiency of evidence.
The high court said Arroyo’s approval of the P366-million intelligence fund releases was only ministerial and did not constitute an “overt act” to commit plunder. CBB
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