FORMER Cagayan de Oro City mayor Vicente Emano pleaded not guilty against graft charges during his arraignment last January 19 at the Sandiganbayan.

The former mayor is facing graft charges in relation to a complaint involving City Hall worker Leonor Esparcia.

With the arraignment done, Emano’s lawyer Francis Ku said the trial at the Sandiganbayan will now commence.

The Sandiganbayan’s First Division, in a resolution promulgated on January 6, denied Emano’s motion to quash for lack of jurisdiction.

The former mayor had petitioned the anti-graft court to cease from hearing the graft case against him in relation to his refusal to implement an order of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to reinstate Esparcia to her previous position at the Cagayan de Oro City Local Government.

Esparcia was appointed as Administrative Assistant III (senior bookkeeper) at the J.R. Borja General Hospital, but she was reassigned and detailed as security guard at the City Library in 2009.

This led her to file a complaint against Emano at the CSC, which ordered her reinstatement in September 2012.

"Our defense is the interpretation of the law in good faith kay kung tan-awon nimo sa Comelec nakaingon diha nga (because if you check in Comelec, it is said that) no movement of employees during election period," Ku said.

Esparcia, meanwhile, will be at the witness stand of the Sandiganbayan during the hearing in April. She was also summoned by the office of the Ombudsman last Tuesday, January 31 and was required to execute a judicial affidavit and submit supporting documents.