MANILA The Sandiganbayan has approved the request of former Senator Jinggoy Estrada for a 31-day trip to the United States to attend a conference, undergo a medical consultation, and go on a vacation with his family.
Estrada is facing plunder and 11 counts of graft for allegedly pocketing PHP183.8 million in kickbacks by allegedly allocating his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel, to fake non-government organizations (NGOs) purportedly owned by jailed businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
Napoles is the alleged brains behind the PHP10-billion pork barrel and the PHP900-million Malampaya Fund scams.
The Sandiganbayan 5th Division approved Estrada's motion to travel in open court during the resumption of the former senator's trial over his alleged involvement in the pork barrel fund scam.
However, Sandiganbayan Fifth Division Chairman Associate Justice Rafael Lagos ordered the counsels of Estrada to provide his full itinerary "otherwise the court will not issue the separate resolution" on his motion.
The grant of Estrada's trip came after he reduced his intended trip by 10 days from April 30, 2018 to May 30, 2018 since those accused are not allowed to travel abroad by more than one month.
Estrada's earlier travel period would have been from April 21, 2018 to May 31, 2018.
In his motion, Estrada said that he has accepted an invitation to be the guest speaker of the US Pinoy for Good Governance (USP4GG) at its annual general membership meeting in Michigan on May 20, 2018.
Estrada attached the letter-invitation signed by USP4GG President William Dechavez in his motion.
The former lawmaker said he is expected to discuss national issues, such as the alleged extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs, the mess concerning the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, and the federalism plan of the government during his speech.
Likewise, Estrada is scheduled to undergo a medical consultation with an orthopedic surgeon, a certain Dr. Christopher Mow, at the Stanford Hospital in California, United States for his recurring shoulder problem.
Estrada added that his US trip would be capped by a vacation with his family, his graduation gift for his son Julian, and a visit to relatives in the US.
However, he failed to state which states they are expected to go.
"This family trip was accused-movant's promise to his family, especially to Julian when he graduated last March 17, 2015 at the OB Montessori Greenhills, San Juan," Estrada said in his motion.
The trip will include Estrada's wife Precy and children Janella, Jolo, and Jill.
Source: Philippine News Agency