THE Ombudsman has asked the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division to hold former senator Jinggoy Estrada in contempt for allegedly falsifying 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 Ombudsman’s prosecutors told the anti-graft court in an April 13 motion.
“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.
“Allowing accused Estrada to travel to the United States... despite the falsity of the purported invitation letter may constitute a travesty of justice.”
The Sandiganbayan on March 26 approved Estrada’s motion to travel to the United States from April 21 to May 31.
Estrada, who is out on bail, was scheduled to attend the supposed US Pinoys For Good Governance group as guest speaker during its annual general membership meeting on May 20, which was to be held at the Hibachi Buffet in the city of Sterling Heights, Michigan.
Estrada’s defense team cited the letter-invitation dated Feb. 7 of USP4GG president William Dechavez for the former senator to attend the event.
But Rodel Rodis, who claims he is the USPGG president, said Dechavez was merely a chapter president of the group in Michigan.
“I can confirm that there is no planned USPGG event on May 20 in Michigan” Rodis said in an electronic mail message to reporters.
“I communicated with Mr. Wllie Dechavez, our USPGG Michigan chairman, 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.”
Rodis claimed a certain Tony Antonio was the person who invited Estrada to Michigan. Antonio requested his friend Dechavez to attach his name to the invitation, he said.
“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.
Estrada is facing plunder and multiple graft cases for allegedly pocketing P183 million of his pork barrel funds. He posted a P1.33-million bail in September for his temporary liberty.