Former Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. pleaded not guilty to the graft, malversation, and falsification charges filed against him and several others in connection with the alleged anomalous bidding for the design and construction of the Makati City Hall Parking Building from 2007 to 2013.
The Sandiganbayan’s Third Division has yet to rule on whether probable cause exists to proceed to trial or not, but Binay was conditionally arraigned on Monday afternoon after he filed a motion seeking permission from the court to travel abroad to the United States from August 14 to 24.
Last week, Binay filed an urgent motion asking the court to allow him to accompany his youngest daughter for a medical consultation in the US.
The defense made the request after the child’s pediatrician made a referral to a doctor based in California. Based on the motion, medical tests were scheduled on August 19 and 20.
Binay’s camp said under Department of Justice’s Department Circular No. 41, a defendant may be allowed to leave the country for exceptional cases.
“It is very important to note that as the only surviving parent, accused believes this is an exceptional case, a humanitarian act to be exact, falling under the above mentioned department circular,” the defense said.
“Besides, the accused has no intention to jump on his bail or evade the law. As a matter of fact, he wants to protect and defend himself during the proceedings of this Honorable Court,” it added.
The defense said Binay, who is out on bail, is willing to comply with the conditions which the court may impose in connection with his request.
The prosecution opposed the request, saying Binay failed to show that his presence is absolutely needed.
“Any member of his family could accompany his daughter abroad so that she could receive medical attention,” it argued.
The court earlier issued hold departure orders against the respondents in the case, barring them from leaving the country without its permission.
The respondents include former Makati officials and employees Marjorie de Veyra, Pio Kenneth Dasal, Lorenza Amores, Virginia Hernandez, Line de la Peña, Mario Badillo, Leonila Querijero, Raydes Pestaño, Nelia Barlis, Cecilio Lim 3rd, Arnel Cadangan, Emerito Magat, Connie Consulta, Ulysses Orienza, Giovanni Condes, Manolito Uyaco, Norman Flores, Gerardo San Gabriel, Eleno Mendoza Jr. and Rodel Nayve.
Efren Canlas, the representative of Hilmarc’s Construction Corp. and Orlando Mateo, of the Mana Architectural and Interior Design Co. were also charged.
The Makati City Hall carpark building was constructed in five phases. It was started when former Vice President Jejomar Binay was the mayor of Makati City and was finished under the term of his son JunJun.
The younger Binay was dismissed as mayor in October 2015 in connection with the complaint.