Ex-lawmaker can’t go abroad

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The Sandiganbayan’s Second Division has issued an order barring former Rep. Rodolfo Plaza of Agusan del Sur and his co-accused in connection with the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel from leaving the country.

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“[T]his Court, in the exercise of its inherent power to use all means necessary to carry its orders into effect, more specifically, to preserve and maintain the effectiveness of its jurisdiction over the case/s and the person/s of the accused so as to render accused at all times amenable to its writs and processes, hereby orders the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation to hold the departure from the Philippines of the above-named accused and to include the name of said accused/s in the Hold Departure List of said Bureau,” the court said in several hold departure orders (HDOs) issued last August 20.

Aside from Plaza, likewise barred from leaving the country were his aide Jasper Kapunan; businesswoman and alleged pork scam brains Janet Lim-Napoles; Napoles’ employee John Raymund de Asis; Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and DBM employees Rosario Nuñez, Lalaine Paule and Marilou Bare.

Also included in the HDO are the president of the implementing agency National Agrbusiness Corp. (Nabcor) Alan Javellana, and Nabcor employees Rhodora Mendoza, Victor Cacal, Romulo Relevo, Maria Ninez Guañizo and Ma. Julie Villaralvo-Johnson; implementing agency National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC) President Gondalina Amata and NLDC employees Gregoria Buenaventura, Emmanuel Sevidal, Chita Jalandoni, Sofia Cruz, Ofelia Ordoñez and Filipina Rodriguez; Renato Ornopia; Nitz Cabilao, and Eulogio Rodriguez.

The HDOs were signed by Sandiganbayan Second Division Chairperson Teresita Diaz-Baldos and Associate Justices Napoleon Inoturan and Maria Cristina Cornejo.

Plaza allegedly received P42.1 million in kickbacks from his PDAF-funded projects from 2004 to 2010. He is also facing direct bribery charges.

The Office of the Ombudsman filed the charges in February this year along with separate charges against four other former lawmakers, also in connection with the pork barrel fund scam.

In a ruling promulgated last May, the court found probable cause to try Plaza and his co-accused.

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