ER Ejercito asks court to defer graft arraignment
Ousted Laguna Governor Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito has asked the Sandiganbayan to defer his scheduled arraignment for graft in connection with an anomalous 2008 insurance deal for tourists going to the Pagsanjan gorge.
In his motion to defer arraignment and suspend proceedings, Ejercito asked the anti-graft court Fourth Division to suspend the proceedings in his graft case pending the resolution by the Supreme Court of his petition for certiorari.
The court scheduled his arraignment for April 18.
Ejercito furnished the court with an affidavit of desistance clearing him of the anomalous deal prepared by the private complainants themselves, the United Boatmen Association of Pagsanjan, which was also furnished to the Ombudsman before it found probable cause to charge Ejercito for graft.
Ejercito quoted the affidavit of desistance as saying the complaint filed before the Ombudsman was “a result of misapprehension of information or details… as well as of misinformation of documents we acquired…”
“Accused respectfully submits that these statements, coming from the private complainants themselves, cast serious doubt on the finding of probable cause,” Ejercito’s motion read.
Ejercito in his prayer asked the court to defer his arraignment and to consider the affidavit of desistance executed by the private complainants as basis for dismissing the case.
Ejercito was charged before the Sandiganbayan with graft for entering into an allegedly anomalous insurance deal for tourists plying the Pagsanjan gorge when he was Pagsanjan mayor in 2008.
The Ombudsman prosecutors said the insurance deal was entered into with First Rapids Care Ventures (FRCV), without public bidding and that the insurance company was not licensed by the Insurance Commission to engage in the business.
According to the information filed by the Office of the Special Prosecutor, Ejercito and other Pagsanjan local officials acted “with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, and/or gross inexcusable negligence” when they entered into the deal without public bidding as provided for in Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
The insurance deal entered into by the Pagsanjan officials was supposed to provide “accident protection and financial assistance” to tourists and boatmen plying the route to and from the Pagsanjan Gorge Tourist Zone.
Also charged with Ejercito were former Pagsanjan Vice Mayor Crisostomo Vilar and former municipal councilors Arlyn Lazaro-Torres, Terryl Gamit-Talabong, Kalahi Rabago, Erwin Sacluti, Gener Dimaranan and Ronaldo Sablan, and Marilyn Bruel, the owner of First Rapids Care Ventures
In 2014, Ejercito was ousted as Laguna governor by the Commission on Elections for overspending in his 2013 campaign. He hopes to reclaim the provincial capitol in the coming May 9 elections under the United Nationalist Alliance of Vice President Jejomar Binay. CDG
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