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Sandigan OKs Gatchalian trip to China

Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - October 13, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan granted yesterday Valenzuela Rep. Weslie Gatchalian’s request to travel to China after he agreed to undergo conditional arraignment and pleaded not guilty to graft and malversation charges.

The anti-graft court’s Fourth Division allowed Gatchalian to leave the country from Oct. 18 to 22.

The Sandiganbayan ordered him to pay P270,000 travel bond.

Gatchalian was directed to stick to his itinerary and submit his passport to the court for inspection upon his return to the country.

He filed a motion to travel last week to join President Duterte’s delegation to China.

Gatchalian said Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez had allowed him to travel to China where he will “assist the President during his discussions with Chinese delegates on matters of economic, political and trade relations.”

Gatchalian is facing graft and malversation charges for his alleged involvement in the government’s anomalous purchase of a thrift bank owned by his family in 2009.

His co-accused include former Local Water Utilities Administration chairman Prospero Pichay Jr. and other former LWUA officials, executives of WELLEX Group Inc., officers of Forum Pacific Inc. and officials of Express Savings Bank Inc.

Ombudsman prosecutors said the government’s acquisition of the thrift bank in Laguna was questionable because it was found to be insolvent after suffering substantial net losses and capital deficits from 2005 to 2009.

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