Congressman Baguilat enters ‘not guilty’ plea to graft charges

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MANILA, Philippines  — Ifugao Rep. Teodoro “Teddy” Baguilat, Jr. on Monday entered before the Sandiganbayan a plea of “not guilty” over the allegedly overpriced purchase of a second-hand vehicle for his province in 2003.

During his conditional arraignment at the Sandiganbayan 5th Division, Baguilat pleaded “not guilty” of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The arraignment of Baguilat had to push through despite his pending motion to dismiss the case for the anti-graft court to allow his trip to Germany and the Netherlands from April 6 to 15.

Baguilat said he is scheduled to attend a Study Visit Program organized by the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung foundation in Berlin. The program, he said, aims to provide solutions to poverty and social justice.

Afterward, Baguilat said, he would then visit the Filipino community in the Netherlands for three days.

“The Program aims to provide platforms for knowledge-sharing for party-building and political branding between the Free Democratic Party of Germany and the Liberal Party of the Philippines, and the visit to Filipino communities in the Netherlands aims to enhance relations with Filipinos overseas,” Baguilat said.

The anti-graft court ordered Baguilat to pay a travel bond of PHP120,000 and present himself to the Division Clerk of Court within five days from his return to the Philippines.

Baguilat, then serving as Ifugao governor, and two provincial officials allegedly conspired with one another when they purchased a second-hand Isuzu Wagon Trooper worth PHP900,000 from a certain Jose Man Singh of JMS General Merchandise.

The Office of the Ombudsman accused Baguilat and his co-accused of approving the procurement despite the lack of a public bidding and without proper budget appropriation.

The deal had been negotiated even before the purchase was made, the court said.

The lawmaker had claimed his right to a speedy disposition of cases was violated, since the alleged offense took place in 2003 but the charge was filed only on Feb. 9, 2018. –PNA

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