REPRESENTATIVE Gwendolyn Garcia (Cebu, 3rd district) has asked the Sandiganbayan to allow her to travel abroad, pending the trial of the graft cases against her and seven others over the allegedly anomalous purchase of the 24.9-hectare Balili property in 2008.

In her motion, Garcia sought permission to travel to Japan from Nov. 23 to 26.

Garcia, along with other members of the House committee on population and family relations, will hold a public hearing and consultation on the divorce bill with Filipino workers in Japan, the pleading states.

Garcia said she also intends to visit Shanghai to attend the International Innovation Summit and the International Innovation Awards of Enterprise Asia from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2.

She also said she would meet with Filipino communities in China to tackle priority legislations.

Garcia’s counsel assured she is a “flight risk” as shown by her return to the country in her previous trips abroad.

“There exists no threat or danger that...Garcia will depart, prejudice, hamper or otherwise obstruct the administration of justice in the instant cases,” the motion read.

In July 2012, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales charged Garcia before the Sandiganbayan with two counts of graft and technical malversation in relation to the Capitol’s purchase of the Balili property in Tinaan, City of Naga.

Also charged were former Provincial Board member Juan Bolo, former provincial assessor Anthony Sususco, Provincial Treasurer Roy Salubre, Provincial Engineer Eulogio Pelayre, and Provincial Budget Officer Emme Gingoyon with one count of graft each. The ombudsman also indicted lot owner Amparo Balili and Romeo Balili, the estate’s executor.

In 2012, the anti-graft court’s second division issued three hold departure orders against the accused in the graft and technical malversation charges.

The Balili property worth P98.926 million was intended for Capitol/s housing and seaport projects. However, the investigation showed that 19.67 hectares of it were submerged in water. (GMD)