MANILA (UPDATE) - The Sandiganbayan has found former Laguna Gov. Emilio Ramon "E.R." Ejercito guilty of graft over an anomalous insurance plan when he was still mayor of Pagsanjan town.
The anti-graft court sentenced Ejercito to 6 to 8 years in prison. He was also perpetually disqualified from holding any public office.
Ejercito, nephew of deposed President and reelectionist Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, a plunder convict, is again running for Laguna governor in the May elections.
Ejercito's graft case is in connection with the allegedly illegal procurement of health insurance plans for tourists and boatmen in the town of Pagsanjan, famous for its waterfalls, where he served as mayor from 2001 to 2010, before he was elected Laguna governor.
He and his co-respondents are accused of forging a memorandum of agreement with First Rapids Care Ventures (FRCV) for accident protection and financial assistance for Pagsanjan tourists and boatmen.
Under the insurance plan, tourists and qualified boatmen at the Pagsanjan Gorge Tourist Zone will receive financial assistance for loss of life or disablement, medical reimbursement, and ambulance and hospital transfer reimbursement.
The Office of the Ombudsman said Pagsanjan officials signed a contract with FRCV without prior bidding, although the company was not licensed and lacked a certificate of authority from the Insurance Commission.
In 2014, Ejercito had to vacate the gubernatorial post on orders of the Commission on Elections after he was found guilty of election overspending in the 2013 polls.
He lost his bid to return to the Laguna provincial capitol in the May 2016 elections.
- report from Raya Capulong, ABS-CBN News