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Chavit pleads not guilty in graft case

Former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson on Monday afternoon pleaded not guilty before the Sandiganbayan on the charges filed against him for funding a company with P16 million in 2001.

Singson underwent a conditional arraignment before the Sandiganbayan Third Division for three counts of violating Section 3 (e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act 3019) and docketed under Criminal Case Nos. SB13CRM0946 to 0948.

Singson pleaded not guilty on all three counts.

The Office of the Ombudsman had accused Singson of unlawfully granting in 2001 a total of P16 million financial assistance to the Multi-line Food Processing International Inc. (MFPII) in violation of Commission on Audit (COA) Circular No. 95-003 since the entity was neither a non-government organization (NGO) nor people’s organization (PO). He was still governor during that time.

Presiding Judge Amparo Cabotaje-Tang explained to Singson that the conditional arraignment was required before the graft court could act to his pending motion to travel.

After the Sandiganbayan issued a hold departure order (HDO) against him last month, the former governor asked permission from the graft court to allow him to travel this month to Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong for several business meetings.

“May mga negosyo lang na aasikasuhin tapos babalik din kaagad [There are several businesses that I have to take care of then I will return immediately],” Singson told reporters following his arraignment.

He expressed confidence that the graft court will grant him his motion to travel. He said that he intends to be in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore from May May 11 to 15 then make another trip to Hong Kong from May 17 to 19.

“Mga iba pinapayagan naman. I don’t see any reason para hindi ako payagan. Hindi naman ako tatakbo. [Others have been granted. I don't see any reason why I won't be allowed. I won't run],” Singson said.