• ‘ER’ Ejercito pleads not guilty to graft

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    Former Laguna Gov. Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito pleaded not guilty to the graft charge before the Sandiganbayan filed against him and several others in connection with the alleged anomalous insurance deal in 2008 when he was municipal mayor of Pagsanjan.

    “I plead not guilty, Your Honors,” Ejercito, who is out on bail, told the court’s Fourth Division during the arraignment on Tuesday.

    He was arraigned after the court denied with finality his plea to quash (void) the complaint against him.
    The other respondents, who are also out on bail, have been arraigned earlier and likewise pleaded not guilty to the charge.

    On March 16, 2016 the Office of the Ombudsman filed the case against Ejercito, former vice mayor Crisostomo Vilar and former members of the municipal council – Arlyn Lazaro-Torres, Terryl Gamit-Talabong, Kalahi Rabago, Erwin Sacluti, and Gener Dimaranan.

    Marilyn Bruel, who was identified in the charge sheet as the then-proprietor of First Rapids Care Ventures (FRCV), was likewise charged.

    The Ombudsman alleged in the charge sheet that a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was entered into with FRCV “without the requisite public bidding” and despite FRCV’s supposed lack of license and certificate of authority from the Insurance Commission to engage in the insurance business.

    The then-municipal councilors “immediately ratified and approved” the MOA “despite the previously stated obvious flaws,” it alleged.

    The deal, which was allegedly entered into with FRCV without holding the required public bidding, was for the provision of accident protection and financial assistance to tourists and boatmen plying the route to and from the Pagsanjan Gorge Transit Zone.

    On March 31, the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division found probable cause to proceed to trial.
    The pre-trial of the case has been scheduled for January 12, 2017.

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