By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has allowed three accused in different cases to join the delegation of President Duterte to China and Hong Kong from April 9 to 13.
Davao Del Norte Rep. Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr., Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund “LRay” Favis Villafuerte Jr. and former Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary and incumbent Bohol 3rd Dist. Rep. Arthur Yap have all been allowed by the anti-graft court to join Duterte’s trip, provided that they comply with the usual rules and regulations of the court.
Floirendo said in his travel motion that he has been included in Duterte’s delegation only on April 4, so he cannot provide the court yet with the list of activities he will be attending.
Meanwhile, Villafuerte wrote that he will be participating in the Boao Forum for Asia on April 9 to 10, while he will be working with Duterte in Hong Kong from April 10 to 13. He was invited on April 3, and he stressed that he “has no intention of evading the law.”
The same is the case for Yap, who was also invited on April 3. He assured the court that he is not a flight risk since his family and business interests are all here. “It would be very difficult for him to start a new life abroad, especially as a fugitive,” his travel motion read.
Floirendo has been charged with graft due to his involvement in the joint-venture agreement between the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and Tagum Agricultural Development Company (TADECO) back in 2003.
Meanwhile, Villafuerte is facing three graft charges in connection with the anomalous purchase of P20-million worth of fuel when he was still the governor of Camarines Sur.
As for Yap, he was earlier slapped with two graft and two malversation charges alongside former Congressman Rodolfo Welborn Antonio of the 4th District of Nueva Ecija in connection with the latter’s alleged misuse of his priority development assistance fund (PDAF) back in 2007. However, the Sixth Division dropped his charges due to the prosecution’s inordinate delay in the conduct of the preliminary investigation.