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Ex-QC Mayor Bautista pleads 'not guilty' on P32M graft raps

Former Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista and his ex-City Administrator Aldrin Cuña on Thursday pleaded not guilty to graft charges in connection with the alleged anomalous computerization project worth P32 million.

Bautista and Cuña personally entered their non-guilty plea during their arraignment for the case filed by the Ombudsman, which accused them of exercising "partiality" in awarding a contract to Geodata Solutions for an Online Occupational Permitting and Tracking System despite the absence of a specific appropriation approved by the city council.

“Not guilty po tayo. [This is] politically motivated. The case was filed against me by the Quezon City government,” Bautista told reporters after the arraignment.

“I devoted myself to Quezon City for 34 years, and then because of politics, we have this [case],” Bautista added, referring to his rise from serving as the Sangguniang Kabataan city’s councilor, vice mayor, and mayor until his term expired in 2019.

Bautista, however, refused to drop names as to who is behind the supposed politically motivated case against him.

“Kayo na bahala roon,” he said.

(I leave it up to you.)

Cuña's lawyer, Enrico Mira, Jr., tried to defer the arraignment of his client by citing their filing of a Motion to Quash a day before, but the Sandiganbayan denied this since Cuña failed to serve the prosecution a copy of the said pleading ahead of the arraignment date in violation of Rules of Court.

"Section 13 of the Rules of Court is clear. The motion is denied outright," Sandiganbayan Seventh Division Chairperson and Associate Justice Theresa Gomez-Estoesta said.

The pre-trial conference then commenced, with both the prosecution and defense agreeing to the existence, due execution and authenticity of documents related to the Geodata contract such as Bids and Awards Committee Resolution, Notice of Award, and delivery receipts among others.

Likewise, both parties agreed to furnish each other copies of the pleadings and motion concerning the case within five days via email and furnish each other and the court with the corresponding hard copies within 48 hours after sending the email via accredited courier services of the court or personal delivery. —VAL, GMA Integrated News