MANILA - Senator Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito blamed former ally Francis Zamora for the delays in their technical malversation case over the alleged illegal diversion of San Juan City calamity fund in 2008.
The case stemmed from the city council's approval to use P2.1-million calamity fund to purchase high-powered firearms to battle security problems in San Juan City when Ejercito was mayor.
READ: JV Ejercito, et al face raps for using calamity funds for gun deal
The Sandiganbayan has set the trial for Ejercito's case starting November 22 due to pending motions of other respondents in the case, including Zamora.
During his supposed arraignment on Thursday, Zamora, a former vice-mayor of San Juan City, asked for more time to appeal the Sandiganbayan's denial of his motion to dismiss his case.
His arraignment was deferred, and was moved to November 10, 2016. Other trial dates set are on November 23, 2016; December 7, 2016; January 17 and 18, 2017; February 1,2,27 and 28, 2017; March 7, 8, 21 and 22, 2017; and April 11 and 12, 2017.
Ejercito said Zamora was using legal maneuvers to delay the trial.
"I already submitted myself to the court. 'Yung kabila, humiwalay pa. Nag-motion to quash, nag-motion to reconsider. They were delaying the proceedings. Ako kasi, I'm confident in myself, that's why I don't want any delays," said Ejercito.
While Ejercito is eager to prove his innocence in trial proper, Zamora sought all legal remedies to dismiss the charges.
''Sen. JV. Ejercito's accusation that I am delaying the case is absurd. It is my right to file a motion to quash. If our MR is approved then I will be discharged from the case. Is that delaying? Definitely not,'' Zamora said.
Aside from technical malversation, Ejercito also faces a graft charge over the same issue before the Sandiganbayan 5th Division. His graft trial, which started last July, is already half-way through.
Meanwhile, Ejercito refused to further comment on his 90-day suspension order aside from a brief statement: "I already submitted myself to the court. I don't have to say anything."
Ejercito was ordered suspended last August 22, 2016 over his graft case.
Ejercito did not file a motion for reconsideration on his suspension order within the allotted 15-day window which expired on Wednesday, September 7, 2016.
However, Sandiganbayan records showed Ejercito, along with co-respondents Ranulfo Daculos and Romualdo delos Santos, filed a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court.
They are asking the high-court to issue a temporary restraining order and eventually set aside the Sandiganbayan's suspension order.
"It's my lawyers' move. My only instruction is no delays," said Ejercito.
"I just do not want my case to be delayed. It is painful enough to be accused of a crime which you are not guilty of, much more for the trial to be delayed."