State lawyers oppose Ongpin foreign trips
MANILA, Philippines—State prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman have asked the Sandiganbayan to deny for lack of merit the amended travel request of businessman Roberto Ongpin for a 14-nation swing around the world.
Ongpin, with 24 former officials of the Development Bank of the Philippines and private individuals, has been charged with graft in connection with the allegedly irregular grant of P660 million in loans by the DBP to his Deltaventures Resources Inc. (DVRI) in 2009. All the accused have denied the allegations.
The prosecution said that while Ongpin claimed that his planned lengthy trip was mainly for business purposes, he failed to state the specific business matters or meetings which would require his personal attention.
In addition, Ongpin failed to indicate the urgent reason for the travel and merely made a general statement that he was a businessman and needed to meet and talk personally with investors and attend meetings overseas, the prosecutors said.
The prosecution also said Ongpin has to be made to file a travel request and seek permission from the 3rd Division of the antigraft court for each country that he intends to visit.
It said there was sufficient time to ask permission to travel from the court before each and every trip.
“Furthermore, the fact that he was previously granted permission to travel by the court does not mean that he should again be granted permission to travel without a valid reason,” the prosecutors said.
The court earlier granted Ongpin’s amended motion for leave to travel filed on Jan. 9, 2014, for travel to Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Turkey, Cambodia, Timor Leste, Australia, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, China and Japan.
The court approved the travel dates as Jan. 31-Feb. 26, 2014; March 1-24, 2014; and Feb. 20 to March 18, 2014.—Cynthia D. Balana
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