• Court OKs PSC chief’s trip to Singapore

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    The Sandiganbayan’s Third Division has granted the plea of Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William Ramirez, who is facing graft charges, to allow him to go to Singapore next week.

    In an urgent motion filed last week, Ramirez sought the permission of the anti-graft court to visit the Singapore Sports Hub in line with plans to build an Olympic City in Clark Green City in time for the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to be hosted by the Philippines.

    “Acting on accused William I. Ramirez, through counsel’s Urgent Motion for Authority to Travel Abroad, which was filed before this Court on October 5, 2016, praying for permission to travel abroad and considering that the accused had already been conditionally arraigned, over the objection of the prosecution, the Court resolves to grant accused permission to travel abroad to Singapore on October 11 to 14, 2016, subject to the following terms and conditions,” the court said in a resolution dated October 6.

    The tribunal required Ramirez to post a cash travel bond of P120,000 in order to guarantee his faithful compliance with the terms and conditions imposed for his trip.

    The resolution also stated that Ramirez’ itinerary shall cover Singapore only and that he shall leave the country not earlier than October 11 and return not later than October 14.

    He was also required to present himself and his passport to the Third Division’s clerk of court within five days after his expected date of return.

    Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, who concurrently leads the court’s Third Division, and Associate Justices Sarah Jane Fernandez and Alex Quiroz signed the ruling.

    Singapore hosted the SEA Games in 2015 and this multi-sport event will be held in the Philippines in 2019.

    Earlier, the Office of the Ombudsman filed graft charges against Ramirez, along with former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) Chairman Efraim Genuino and several others, over the alleged anomalous release of P37 million to the Philippine Amateur Swimming Association Inc. (PASA) for the training of swimmers for the 2012 Olympic Games.

    Likewise named as respondents were former Pagcor President Rafael Francisco, former Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications and Services Department Edward King, former Executive Vice President and Head of the Internal Audit Department Rene Figueroa, former Vice President, Accounting Department Ester Hernandez, former Assistant Vice President, Internal Audit Department Valente Custodio, and then-PASA President Mark Joseph.

    According to the Ombudsman, the funds were allegedly used to pay for the use of the aquatic facility of Trace Aquatic Center which is a sports facility allegedly owned by Genuino and his family.

    The money was released directly to PASA instead of to the PSC to form part of the latter’s National Sports Development Fund as provided for by law, the complaint alleged.

    Ramirez pleaded not guilty to the charges during his conditional arraignment.

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