Supreme Court of the Philippines

Supreme Court allows travel abroad for graft convict in PDAF scam

Lian Buan
Supreme Court allows travel abroad for graft convict in PDAF scam

HIGH COURT. The Supreme Court of the Philippines on June 19, 2018.

File photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

Dennis Cunanan, convicted of graft in the Gregorio Ipong P9.6-million PDAF scam case, is allowed by the Supreme Court to travel abroad

The Supreme Court has granted the request for overseas travel of graft convict Dennis Cunanan, among those found guilty in 2020 of committing graft in the P9.6 million pork barrel scam case of former Cotabato 2nd District representative Gregorio Ipong.

“Petitioner Dennis Cunanan is allowed to travel to the United States from October to November 2021. The Hold Departure Order (HDO) issued by the Sandiganbayan against petitioner Cunanan is lifted,” said the Supreme Court First Division in a resolution dated September 29.

Charges come with HDOs but courts are usually lenient to those still on trial, with petitions for travel a regular course in their proceedings, especially if they are not considered a flight risk.

But it’s another matter altogether for those convicted.

For example, in August 2020, the Court of Appeals (CA) rejected the travel request of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, who has been convicted of cyber libel. Ressa had wanted to go to the United States to receive journalism awards and attend the screening of the documentary, “A Thousand Cuts,” which is about her and Rappler.

The CA denied the motion, saying her US travel is not necessary and urgent.

In Cunanan’s case, he will be traveling to the United States to attend the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons. He said the event’s side highlights would be to sign an agreement to support burned and crippled patients in the Philippines.

In July 2021, the Supreme Court Second Division likewise allowed Cunanan travel, but by the time of the resolution, his proposed travel dates had already lapsed, thus the September resolution with an updated itinerary.

Cunanan was deputy director general of the now-defunct Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC), one of the government entities used to funnel pork barrel funds for ghost projects.

In the Ipong case, Cunanan and others were found guilty for giving preference to non-governmental organization (NGO) Aaron Foundation Philippines Incorporated to implement a P9.6-million project, even if AFPI had no government accreditation. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.