Two former councilors and a retiredCity Planning and Development Officer of Silay City facing a criminal case for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in connection with a P18 million government computerization project, pleaded not guilty before three Sandiganbayan associate justices yesterday.
Former councilors Mario Torres and Ramon Jison and retired CPDO Ricardo Ledesma Jr. pleaded not guilty on arraignment at Branch 69 of the Silay City Regional Trial Court presided over by Associate Justice Oscar Herrera Jr., chairperson of the Sandiganbayan Second Division, with Associate Justices Michael Frederick Musngi and Lorifel Pahimna.
Herrera said the three wrote the Supreme Court asking that they be arraigned in Silay City stating that they could not go to Manila for their arraignment because of their physical disabilities.
The trial was unable to proceed after the arraignment yesterday as prosecution witness Jose Lindy Chan, who had filed the complaint against the three and their co- accused, failed to appear despite a subpoena sent to him. The hearing has been reset to April 10 at the Sandiganbayan in Manila.
Their co-accused are former Silay Mayor Jose Montelibano, Jose Raymundo Locsin, April Grace de los Reyes, Ignacio Salmingo, Elsie Jimenia, Emmanuel Arsenal, Kara Aimee Quevenco, Pepito Hechanova Jr., Alma de la Cruz, Sonia Cordero, Rene Roy Pahilanga, Giovanni Guzon, Arnie Trajera, Jose Genaro Estrañero, Macarse Tionko, Armin Paredes, Alore Golez,Vilma Dooma, Jesus Oppus, Joedith Gallego, Michael Maravilla, Julieta Cunanan and Salvador Segovia.
Quevenco said the arraignment of Torres, Jison and Ledesma was needed for the Sandiganbayan trial to proceed.
Their co-accused had also pleaded not guilty earlier.
The Court of Appeals had also earlier dismissed an administrative case against the accused based on the same allegations as the criminal case.
Both cases were premised on the same basic theory that the accused illegally resorted to direct contracting, instead of competitive bidding, in awarding a contract for the implementation of an information and communications technology project to the Systems and Plan Integrator Development Corp.
The Ombudsman and the private complainants appealed the CA decision on the administrative case to the Supreme Court.*CPG
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