THE Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division has found probable cause to proceed to trial in the graft case filed against ousted Laguna Gov. E.R. Ejercito and several others in connection with an allegedly anomalous insurance deal in 2008 while he was the mayor of Pagsanjan town.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed the charge before the anti-graft court last month, alleging that the deal was entered into without the required public bidding.
“After a personal, independent, and judicious review of the records … the Court finds that probable cause exists for the issuance of the warrant of arrest against the accused,” the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division said in a minute resolution, dated March 31, which it made public on Monday.
Ejercito posted bail for his provisional liberty ahead of the court’s ruling.
Several other respondents have likewise already posted bail, including former Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Council) members Arlyn Lazaro-Torres, Terryl Gamit-Talabong, Kalahi Rabago, Erwin Sacluti, and Gener Dimaranan as well as Marilyn Bruel, who was identified in the charge sheet as First Rapids Care Ventures (FRCV) proprietor.
Thus, the court ordered that arrest warrants be issued only against the respondents former Pagsanjan Vice Mayor Crisostomo Vilar and former municipal council member Ronaldo Sablan.
The ruling was signed by Associate Justice Jose Hernandez, who leads the court’s Fourth Division, and Associate Justices Alex Quiroz and Geraldine Faith Econg.
The Ombudsman said the respondents entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to provide accident protection and financial assistance to Pagsanjan tourists and legitimate and qualified boatmen plying the route to and from the Pagsanjan Gorge Transit Zone for loss of life, disablement, medical reimbursement, and ambulance/hospital transfer reimbursement.
The Ombudsman alleged that it was without the requisite public bidding under Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
It also alleged that FRCV was not licensed or in possession of a certificate of authority from the Insurance Commission to engage in the insurance business. REINA TOLENTINO