Sandigan allows Cebu lawmaker’s trip to China

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014


THE anti-graft court on Wednesday allowed Cebu Representative Gwendolyn Garcia to travel to the People's Republic of China.

In a ruling issued Wednesday, Sandiganbayan Second Division granted Garcia's motion to travel abroad subject to a P270,000 travel bond.

The resolution is signed by Presiding Judge Teresita Diaz-Baldoz and Associate Justices Napoleon Inoturan and Oscar Herrera Jr.

Garcia along with 11 other female legislators will leave for China on May 8 to 18 to attend a forum organized by the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Also joining the all-female China trip are Representatives Gina de Venecia (Pangasinan), Rosenda Ann Ocampo (Manila), Zenaida Angping (Manila), Belma Cabilao (Zamboanga Sibugay), Susan Yap (Tarlac), Josephine Sato (Occidental Mindoro), Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman (PL-Anak Mindanao), Marie Anne Pernes (Siquijor), Elisa Kho (Masbate), Juliette Uy (Misamis Oriental) and Maria Lourdes Acosta-Alba (Bukidnon).

The group's travel has been authorized by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

In her petition, Garcia noted that their travel will not entail any cost on the part of the House of Representatives although the leadership has endorsed the group for exemption from payment of travel taxes.

Last week, the prosecution team asked the anti-graft court to junk the latest travel request of the Cebu lawmaker, saying that "the accused was not specifically invited and that her presence is not indispensable" since the invitation by the CPC was only addressed to de Venecia.

Garcia, a former governor of Cebu, has pending graft and malversation cases filed against her by the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with allegations of irregularities in the purchase of the 24.92-hectare Balili Estate for P98.93-million in 2008 when she was still the sitting as provincial chief executive.

Government prosecutors said the acquisition was disadvantageous because a big part of the property is underwater.

Earlier, Garcia was allowed by the Sandiganbayan to travel abroad to visit her daughters and granddaughters in the United States last April 23 up to April 30. (Sunnex)

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