PDP-Laban, Communist Party of China set meet

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President Rodrigo Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) is set to meet with the Communist Party of China (CPC) on January 22 to 25.

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This was revealed in a Motion to Travel filed by a PDP-Laban official, Efraim Genuino, who is facing 20 counts of malversation and 19 counts of graft over the allegedly anomalous purchase of movie tickets to the movie Baler, illegal donations to private entities (P44-million donation to Batang Iwas Droga a.k.a Bida Foundation) and unlawful storage of P1.41 million worth of donated rice from Japan for Typhoon “Frank” victims in 2008.

In addition, Genuino is also facing four counts of perjury for his alleged failure to disclose several pieces of real property in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) for the years 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005, as well as three graft cases in connection with the allegedly unlawful release of P37 million to the Philippine Amateur Swimming Association for the training of swimmers for the 2012 Olympic Games.

“Accused was recently invited to join the delegation of the PDP-Laban, led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, to travel to Beijing, China on January 22 to 25 to meet with officials of the CPC to deepen exchanges and cooperation, boost mutual trust and friendship for sound and stable progress in China-Philippines strategic and cooperative relationship for peace and development,” Genuino’s motion read.

Genuino is the chairman of the finance committee of PDP-Laban.

President Duterte has repeatedly expressed his desire for stronger Philippine-China relations, to the point of offering a joint exploration with China on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) islands even if the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration already junked China’s nine-dash line claim to the entire West Philippine Sea in July 2016.

The same UN ruling also outlawed China’s aggression against Filipino fishermen and reclamation projects there by declaring that Filipino fishermen enjoy fishing rights at Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) and that the Spratly Islands, as well as the Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal and Recto (Reed) Bank are all within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

Genuino, however, wanted more than just a business trip.

“Taking advantage of this official business trip, accused has also decided to make a side trip to Hong Kong for a much needed short vacation,” he said in the same motion.

If the Sandiganbayan consents to this, Genuino will be leaving with the rest of the PDP-Laban delegation on January 22 and will return to the Philippines from Hong Kong on January 30.

Genuino said this would only mark the first time that he is seeking permission to travel since he was indicted by the Justice department in 2011.

He, however, was not able to provide his itinerary for the trip but promised to provide the anti-graft court with such details as soon as possible.

Genuino argued that he is also willing to post a cash bond, among other requirements, as may be required by the Sandiganbayan.

LLANESCA T. PANTI

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