Ex-PNP chief Versoza pleads not guilty to graft charges
MANILA – Former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Jesus Verzosa on Thursday entered a not guilty plea to graft charges involving an alleged anomalous transaction in 2009.
Verzosa is facing graft charges after being implicated in the allegedly anomalous purchase of second-hand helicopters that were sold to the PNP as brand new for P34.6 million in 2009.
The PNP purchased one Robinson R44 Raven II chopper, and two Robinson R44 Raven I helicopters from a company called MAPTRA. Two of the three choppers purchased were passed off as brand new.
MAPTRA sourced the choppers from Lionair, the exclusive distributor of Robinson choppers in the Philippines.
A top executive of Lionair had testified before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee that Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, husband of former President Gloria Arroyo, was allegedly the true owner of the helicopters.
Mike Arroyo pleaded not guilty to graft charges last January. He denied he owned the choppers.
A warrant of arrest was issued last June by the anti-graft court against Verzosa and several of his subordinates and co-accused, Herold Ubalde, Roman Loreto, George Quinto Piano, Edgar Paatan and Avensuel Go Dy.
Arraignment, however, proceeded only for Verzosa's co-accused: police generals PDir. Romeo Hilomen, PDir. Jefferson Soriano, PCSupt. Herold Ubalde and PDir. George Piano, after the former PNP chief snubbed his arraignment last July 11.
They all pleaded not guilty for violating the anti-graft law before Sandiganbayan Justices Roland Jurado, Alexander Gesmundo and Amparo Cabotaje-Tang.
The Ombudsman filed the graft case against Verzosa, Arroyo, a businessman, and 19 retired and active police officers during the Arroyo administration last year.
Verzosa had said any procurement deal went through strict PNP bidding process, and due diligence was conducted by various committees before his approval. – with reports from Johnson Manabat, dzMM; and Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News