By Benjamin Pulta

Supreme Court (File photo)

MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) has granted the request of a former Department of Tourism (DOT) official facing graft charges to travel abroad but with conditions.

The SC Second Division allowed Eduardo Jarque Jr. to travel to Dubai, United Arab Emirates from Jan. 15 to 24 but must submit detailed flight details and itinerary, post a travel bond of PHP300,000 and report to the court in writing within 24 hours after arrival.

“While an accused requesting for permission to travel abroad has the burden to show the need for his travel, such permission must not be unduly withheld if it is sufficiently shown that allowing his travel would not deprive the court of its exercise of jurisdiction over his person,” read the SC resolution published online Jan. 6.

Former DOT chief Joseph Durano, Jarque and four others have been convicted of the violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which was affirmed by the Sandiganbayan in February last year.

Also convicted were former DOT undersecretary Oscar Palabyab, financial management service director Grace Yoro, legal affairs office director IV Evelyn Cajigal Bids and Jarque’s fellow Bids and Awards (BAC) committee member Adriana Flor.

They were sentenced to up to 10 years in prison in connection with an alleged anomalous PHP2.7-million wall calendar project in 2008.

Court records showed that the Ombudsman filed the graft cases on March 22, 2019 as the DOT-BAC allegedly gave PDP Digital Inc. unwarranted benefits for the “conceptualization and development” of the calendar “without competitive bidding.”

The conviction is on appeal.

In a statement after the Sandiganbayan ruling last year, Durano said they made an “honest albeit mistaken belief” and was surprised about the conviction since two other similar cases against him have been dismissed. (PNA)