Court approves Israel pilgrimage of Binay couple
MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has allowed former vice President Jejomar Binay and his wife, former Makati mayor Elenita Binay, to join the rest of their family in a two-week pilgrimage to Israel later this month.
Three divisions of the Sandiganbayan signed off on the travel motions in separate resolutions released to the media on Thursday, May 11.
Elenita faces charges before the court's Third, Fourth and Fifth divisions in connection to the alleged overpricing of hospital beds and office furniture in Makati when she was mayor.
The former vice president faces charges before the Sandiganbayan's 3rd Division in connection to the alleged overpriced Makati parking building. He was conditionally arraigned on Wednesday, May 10, to give the court the authority to approve his travel motion.
The Binay family will be on the pilgrimage to Israel from May 15 to 29. The prosecution firmly opposed Jejomar's travel, describing him as a flight risk.
Jejomar will pay a P752,000-travel bond before he flies to Israel. Elenita does not have to pay as she has not withdrawn her travel bonds from her previous trips.
The court also denied his request for his conditional arraignment to be nullified upon his return to the country.
The camp of the former vice president feared that a conditional arraignment would limit what they can do to keep the charges from proceeding to trial. His lawyers filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC), challenging the conduct of the preliminary investigation against him by the Office of the Ombudsman.
The court did not explain further its decision, only citing Jejomar's conditional arraignment. The conditional arraignment was done so trial could still proceed "in absentia" should the former official go into hiding.
The only issue that arose from Elenita's travel motion was her refusal to give her personal mobile number to the prosecution. It was quickly resolved when the justices ordered her to buy an alternative SIM card so the court can monitor her while abroad.
Their son, former Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr initially filed his own travel motion, but he withdrew it due to "more pressing" matters at home.
The 74-year-old Jejomar appealed to the court to let him go on a pilgrimage, citing his old age and his deep Catholic faith.
The former vice president also said the pilgrimage is important to him because it will be led by the Salesian priest who he has a weekly bible study with.
Jejomar and his son face charges for the alleged overpriced Makati parking. – Rappler.com