• Ex-San Juan councilor pleads not guilty to graft rap

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    Former San Juan City Council member Jannah Ejercito-Surla pleaded not guilty during her arraignment on technical malversation complaint filed against her in connection with the allegedly anomalous purchase of high-powered firearms in 2008.

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    Surla and Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito were among 14 individuals charged by the Office of the Ombudsman at the Sandiganbayan over the purchase of firearms. She underwent conditional arraignment because of a motion she filed asking the court for permission to travel to Guam from June 25 to 29 for a family vacation, which the court granted.

    In filing the case, the Ombudsman alleged that the respondents authorized and caused the use of the city’s calamity fund to buy the firearms for P2.1 million, “thereby applying said public fund for a purpose different from which such fund was intended and appropriated by law or ordinance.”

    Also named respondents were former San Juan Vice Mayor Leonardo Celles, Francisco Zamora (now vice mayor), Andoni Carballo, Vincent Pacheco, Angelino Mendoza, Dante Santiago, Rolando Bernardo, Grace Pardines, Domingo Sese, Francis Peralta, Edgardo Soriano, Ramon Nakpil, and Joseph Torralba.

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