Jinggoy Estrada faces contempt for ‘fake’ invite to the USA
MANILA, Philippines – State prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman asked the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to hold former senator Jinggoy Estrada in contempt for faking an invitation to the United States.
“Estrada should be required to show cause why he should not be cited in contempt of court for using a falsified invitation letter to buttress his motion,” the prosecution said in a motion sent to the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division on April 13 and released to media on Monday, April 16.
Estrada, who is out on bail for plunder charges, applied for a travel motion to go to the United States from April 21 to May 31. The court granted the motion on March 26. It was a simple travel motion that the court almost always grants for defendants.
But there was a problem. Estrada said in his motion that part of his travel to the USA was to speak in Michigan on Philippine affairs, and it was upon the invitation of the US Pinoys for Good Governance (USPGG).
Estrada attached an invitation from William Dechavez, identified in the letter as USPGG president.
“I can confirm that there is no planned USPGG event on May 20 in Michigan. I communicated with Mr Wllie Dechavez, our USPGG Michigan chair, and he made no plans for this event as he is in the Philippines for a vacation and he has not been in touch with his members in Michigan,” said Rodel Rodis in an email sent to reporters.
Rodis is USPGG president, not Dechavez. USPGG is chaired by Loida Nicolas Lewis, a Filipino-American philanthropist who is also a known critic of the Duterte administration.
Rodis said that a certain Tony Antonio was the one who invited Estrada to Michigan. Antonio requested his friend Dechavez to attach his name to the invitation.
“As Mr Antonio was a personal friend of Mr Dechavez, he said he would be willing to add his name but only as an individual, not on behalf of USPGG, as he was in the Philippines and he needed to contact his members before he would have the authority to include the USPGG,” Rodis said.
The Ombudsman prosecutors told the court: “With this information, the prosecution is constrained to pray that the Honorable Court hold in abeyance the issuance of the travel authority of accused Estrada since accused appears to have committed material misrepresentations in his motion, thus openly violating one of the terms and conditions of the court in allowing an accused to travel.
They added: “Allowing accused Estrada to travel to the United States with the consequence of making him beyond the reach of the Honorable Court, despite the falsity of the purported invitation letter, may constitute a travesty of justice.”
The court on Monday asked Estrada to comment on the prosecution’s motion.
Estrada has since gone abroad after getting a bail grant. Estrada spent the Christmas holidays with his family in Hong Kong. In November 2017, he went to Singapore to accompany his father Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada for a medical procedure. – Rappler.com