GMA allowed to travel abroad

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The Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division has allowed former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo to travel to Germany and France from September 19 to October 3 and to Hong Kong from October 29 to November 4.

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Arroyo is facing graft and breach of conduct charges in connection with the botched $329-million national broadband deal.

In 2012, the anti-graft court issued an order barring her from leaving the country without its prior permission while the cases are pending.

The defense said in its motion that Arroyo will consult with medical experts in Germany and that she will take a brief vacation in France. The lawmaker plans to meet with the Filipino communities in both countries.

“She has every intention of returning to the Philippines to face the remaining charges against her and to clear her name,” Arroyo’s lawyers told the court.

The court set several conditions in allowing the former leader to leave – she should leave for Munich, Germany and Paris, France not earlier than September 19 and return to the Philippines not later than October 3, and that she shall leave for Hong Kong not earlier than October 29 and be back not later than November 4.

Another condition set by the court was that Arroyo should not visit other places not included in her itinerary.

She was also required to present herself before the court five days after her return.

On Wednesday, Arroyo’s camp posted the required travel bond totaling P300,000.

The Office of the Ombudsman filed a case for alleged violation of Section 3(g) of the anti-graft law in 2011 against Arroyo, her husband former First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, and former Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr.

It also filed charges for alleged violation of Section 3(i) of the anti-graft law and Section 7(d) of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, where former President Arroyo was charged as sole respondent.

Meanwhile, the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division granted Mr. Arroyo’s plea that he be allowed to travel to Munich, Germany; Paris, France, and; Hong Kong from September 10 to November 4 in a separate resolution.

The resolutions were signed by Associate Justices Jose Hernandez, Alex Quiroz, and Geraldine Faith Econg.

Last month, Arroyo was released from hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center following the Supreme Court’s ruling that dismissed for lack of evidence the plunder case filed against her by the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds. REINA TOLENTINO

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