MANILA, Philippines ?— Muntinlupa City Rep. Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon has asked the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan to allow him to leave the country for eight days amid his pending criminal cases in connection with the pork barrel fund scam.
In his urgent motion filed on March 22, Biazon urged the court’s Seventh Division to lift the hold departure order (HDO) it earlier issued against him so that he can travel to Singapore and Maldives from April 3 to 10.
Biazon said he has recently been invited by the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines (TPBPHL) to attend the Asia Dive Expo 2018 to be held at Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre in Singapore on April 6.
Biazon said that as the principal author of a pending bill at the House of Representatives seeking to promote and develop the sports of scuba diving in the Philippines, the knowledge he will gain from the expo will be valuable during the deliberations on his proposed measure, especially on ensuring the safety of the sport.
Apart from the Dive Expo, Biazon said he will also be on board MV Maldives Princess from April 3 to 7.
Biazon attached in his motion an authorization to travel from the office of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
Biazon said he will be billeted at Pan Pacific Singapore located at Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square, Marina Bay for the duration of his trip.
It was in May 2016 when the Seventh Division issued an HDO against Biazon in connection with his cases of graft, malversation of public funds and direct bribery over his alleged involvement in the pork barrel fund scam.
He is accused of allocating P3 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel in 2007 to one of the fake foundations linked with the alleged pork scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles in exchange for P1.950 million worth of kickbacks.
In his motion, Biazon assured the court that he will return to the country as proven by his previous foreign trips.
“He is the incumbent representative of the Lone District of Muntinlupa, his family are staying here in the Philippines and he has no reason to abscond,” Biazon’s motion read.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Ombudsman’s prosecution team vehemently objected on the motion, saying that the reason cited by Biazon in his travel request is “not urgent or compelling” enough for the court to risk losing jurisdiction over him.
“Indeed, if the accused were allowed to leave the Philippines without sufficient reason, he may be placed beyond the reach of the courts,” the prosecution said in its opposition paper.
“Considering that no compelling reason exist for accused Biazon to travel to Singapore and Maldives on April 3 to 10,2018, the denial of his motion is proper,” it added.
The Seventh Division had previously allowed Biazon to travel to Europe from Dec. 20, 2017 to Jan. 6, 2018 and to Italy and Switzerland from July 7 to July 16, 2017.