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Sandigan OKs ex-Ecija governor’s Tokyo trip

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has approved the request of former Nueva Ecija governor Tomas Joson III to travel abroad despite his pending graft case.

In a minute-resolution dated Oct. 10 and released yesterday, the anti-graft court’s seventh division granted Joson’s motion to visit Tokyo from Oct. 22 to Nov. 1.

The Sandiganbayan said the P360,000 that Joson posted during his previous travel abroad, which has not been withdrawn, would suffice for his new travel request.

The court said Joson should appear before the office of the clerk of court within five days upon his return to the country and present the original and photocopy of his passport.

Any violation of the terms and conditions set by the court in connection with the travel request shall be a ground for the forfeiture of Joson’s bail and travel bond and the issuance of a warrant of arrest, the Sandiganbayan said.

In a motion filed on Sept. 27, Joson said he would travel to Tokyo “for business and pleasure.” He assured the court that he has no intention to evade the charges filed against him, citing his previous trips abroad.

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The graft case against Joson stemmed from his donation of a mobile clinic, a Toyota Revo, a Ford F-150 and a Nissan Urban to the local government of Quezon, Nueva Ecija when his nephew Eduardo Basilio Joson was mayor in 2007.

The ombudsman said the donations were ”in excess” of the number of vehicles approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, causing ”undue injury” to the provincial government.

Joson had earlier filed a motion to dismiss the case, citing weak evidence.

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