THE Sandiganbayan has summoned Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella to appear before the Court on Friday after travelling to the United States last week.
The mayor is facing graft charges for the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund during his term as congressman.
Puentevella left for the US on June 8, 2015 and was due to return to the country on Sunday.
The Court asked Puentevella to present his passport bearing the stamps of his departure and entry to the country for proper authentication.
“Any violation of the terms and conditions contained in this resolution shall be sufficient ground for this court to order the forfeiture of bail and travel bond, as well as to cause the issuance of warrant for his arrest,” the anti-graft court stated.
Lawyer Lorney Lyzander Dilag, spokesperson of the mayor, earlier said the mayor can freely travel in and out of the country contrary to claims that a travel ban has been issued against him.
Dilag added that the earlier denial of the Sandiganbayan of the request of Puentevella to attend the 6th Federation Internationale de Football Association Congress in Switzerland on the last week of May was merely based on the question of his health status.
After that, the Sandiganbayan gave Puentevella 10 days to travel abroad to attend various functions.
For his travel to the US, Puentevella attended the 6th World Cities Summit Mayors Forum from June 8 to 10 in New York City. He was also invited to the Philippine Independence Ball Gala Night on June 13 at the Teaneck Marriott at Glenpointe, New Jersey.
Puentevella was allowed to leave the country not earlier than June 8 and be back not later than June 17.
“We consider this as a positive answer to the malicious insinuations that the mayor is banned from travelling abroad,” Dilag said, adding that the court apparently saw that his previous travels abroad were done in good faith.
The court granted Puentevella's motion for leave of court to travel abroad on June 8. The court, however, reminded the mayor that his travel must be limited to New York City and “not any other place.”
“Any material misrepresentation made in the accused’s motion for permission to travel abroad shall be punished as a contempt of this court and shall be dealt with accordingly,” the Sandiganbayan said.
Puentevella was also required to post a travel bond of P90,000 in cash, but since he has yet to withdraw the travel bond of P90,000 which he posted in March last year, the court said “the same shall answer for the travel bond requirement therein.”