Filtered By: Topstories

Sandiganbayan junks US travel bid of ex-TLRC deputy chief Cunanan

The Sandiganbayan has denied the request of former Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC) deputy director Dennis Cunanan, one of the accused in graft and malversation charges in connection with the pork barrel scam, to travel to the United States for his daughter’s graduation.

In a 12-page resolution dated May 8, 2023, the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division said Cunanan failed to disclose his previous criminal convictions as well as to attach various supporting documents — such as his Philippine passport, US visa, confirmed flight/plane tickets, confirmed hotel bookings, contact numbers while abroad, and duly notarized undertaking of his counsel — to his request.

The anti-graft court was referring to Cunanan’s graft and malversation of public funds convictions in criminal case numbers SB-17-CRM-1496 and 1497, as well as SB-17-CRM-0930 and 0940, both entitled People v. Gregorio Ipong et. al. and are related to the pork barrel scam.

“Such convictions by Cunanan, though not yet final, make him a flight risk and necessitates that the court take greater caution in determining whether he should be allowed to travel in order to safeguard the system of justice,” the Sandiganbayan said.

“Such omissions heighten the court's impression that accused Cunanan is not being forthright and transparent about his intended travel,” it added.

Cunanan, in the graft and malversation cases pending before the division, is accused of mishandling the P10-million pork barrel — or the Priority Development Assistant Fund (PDAF) — of former Laguna lawmaker Danton Bueser and transferring it to an ineligible non-government entity.

“While the court notes that he has been acquitted in some cases, the fact remains that accused Cunanan has been convicted in some cases, though pending appeal with the Supreme Court,” the Sandiganbayan said.

“His non-disclosure of his convictions in some cases severely taints accused Cunanan's candor before the court. Thus, based on all the foregoing, the court is constrained to deny Cunanan's motion for leave to travel abroad. Wherefore, accused Dennis L. Cunanan's Motion for Leave of Court to Travel dated 14 March 2023 is denied for lack of merit,” it added.

Cunanan, in asking the anti-graft court to allow him to travel, said he is willing to be escorted by a member of the Philippine National Police during the duration of the trip or to make reportorial arrangements with the nearest Philippine Consulate offices, including the surrender of his passport.

Cunanan also assured the Sandiganbayan that he will be reachable through his personal mobile number, and that he will be available anytime via videoconference should the court require his presence in any hearing.

The Sandiganbayan, however, was not convinced.

“These are not effective measures that can counter the possibility of flight. Evidently, his activities cannot be monitored 24/7 by either the PNP escort or the consular officials,” it said.

“If granted leave to travel abroad, accused Cunanan will still be travelling freely and this will open a window of opportunity for him to leave the jurisdiction from where his criminal cases still thrive. These [assurances] are vastly inadequate to allay the doubt which the court entertains about his risk,” the Sandiganbayan added. —KBK, GMA Integrated News