Elenita Binay asks court to allow her Holy Land pilgrimage
MANILA — Former Makati City Mayor Elenita Binay, who faces criminal charges over the anomalous purchase of furniture and hospital equipment, has asked the Sandiganbayan for permission to go on a pilgrimage in the Holy Land.
Elenita is set to join her husband and son, former Vice President Jejomar Binay and former Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr., who are also facing criminal cases over alleged irregularities in the Makati City Hall car park project.
In a five-page motion submitted to the Sandiganbayan’s Third, Fourth and Fifth Division, Elenita said the Binay family was invited to join the Salesian Priests of Don Bosco on a pilgrimage from May 15 to 29. The tour is led by Fr. Francis Gustillo.
The pilgrimage will take the Binays to various biblical sites in Israel, including Jerusalem, Caesarea Maritima, Mount Carmel, Tiberias, Nazareth, Cana, Caesarea Philippi, Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, Mount Tabor, Tabgha, Sea of Galilee, Jordan River, Jericho, Dead Sea, Bethlehem, Ein Karem, and Emmaus.
Elenita said the Sandiganbayan had previously granted her permission to travel abroad and she had “faithfully complied with the orders and conditions imposed by the Court.”
Prosecutors of the Office of the Ombudsman expressed their objection during separate hearings held on Thursday, pointing out that a religious trip was not a matter of pressing concern.
At the Fourth Division, prosecutors even raised the matter of Elenita putting the trunkline number of her hotel as her contact number abroad. Her lawyers, however, wanted to maintain the confidentiality of her personal details.
Justice Maria Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta told the defense lawyers: “Do you think it’s that easy for a hotel to divulge the information of its guests when you call them?”
Justice Alex L. Quiroz instead required the Binay camp to purchase a SIM card that would still enable authorities to contact her directly. The defense agreed to submit the number within the day.
Trial is ongoing at the Fifth Division for Elenita’s P72.06-million graft case over the purchase of furniture and fixtures for the city hall in 1999.
She also faces charges of graft and malversation through falsification at the Third Division over the rigged bidding for the P45-million worth of hospital beds and sterilizers for the city-run Ospital ng Makati in 2000 and 2001. Trial is currently scheduled to begin in May.
Elenita was already acquitted at the Fourth Division of graft charges in connection with the P13.25-million purchase of city hall furniture in 1999. But, she still has to seek travel permission from this court because it has yet to resolve the prosecution’s appeal. SFM
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