JV Ejercito charged over arms deal
THE OFFICE of the Ombudsman yesterday filed graft and technical malversation cases against Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito over an allegedly anomalous purchase of high-powered firearms worth P2.1 million when he was still San Juan City mayor in 2008.
The Ombudsman’s Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), in two separate charge sheets, charged Ejercito with one count of violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and one count of technical malversation as defined under Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code.
San Juan City Vice Mayor Francisco Zamora is also among the other former and incumbent city officials who were charged for technical malversation.
Zamora is eyeing the city’s top seat currently being held by Ejercito’s mother Guia Gomez.
The OSP recommended a P30,000 bail bond each for the five city officials accused of graft—City Administrator Ranulfo Dacalos, Treasurer Rosalinda Marasigan, lawyer Romualdo delos Santos, Budget Officer Lorenza Ching and engineer Danilo Mercardo.
A P6,000 bail bond was recommended for the 14 former and incumbent city officials accused in the technical malversation case—former San Juan Vice Mayor Leonardo Celles and City Councilors Andoni Carballo, Vincent Pacheco, Angelino Mendoza, Dante Santiago, Rolando Bernardo, Grace Pardines, Domingo Sese, Francis Peralta, Edgardo Soriano, Jannah Ejercito-Surla, Franciso Zamora, Ramon Nakpil and Joseph Christopher Torralba.
According to the information provided by the Ombudsman, Ejercito conspired with other city officials in February 2008 to purchase high-powered firearms using the city’s calamity fund as “investment for disaster preparedness.” This led the city council to pass a city ordinance allowing Ejercito to buy the firearms for the city’s police department.
It was also noted that the city was not under a state of calamity when the purchase was made.
The firearms bought using the city’s calamity fund included: three model K2 5.56-mm submachine guns and 17 units of Daewoo model K1 5.56-mm submachine guns.
The Ombudsman said the purchase of the firearms was done with haste without “competitive bidding and without any postqualification, bolstered by bid documents bearing dates earlier than the publication of the invitation to bid, showing that an unwarranted benefit, advantage and preference was accorded to the supplier.”
The Ombudsman also said that high-powered firearms are not among the items needed for disaster relief and mitigation.
Reacting to the charges, Ejercito, the son of former president and incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, called it “unfortunate,” adding his “conscience remains clear.”
“It is unfortunate that the Office of the Ombudsman denied my motion for reconsideration on the 2008 case of firearms procurement, when I was San Juan City Mayor,” Ejercito said in a statement.
“My conscience, however, remains clear. I did not commit technical malversation,” said the senator whose term ends in 2019.
Ejercito insisted that the firearms purchase was done in accordance with the law. He said the Commission on Audit cleared his office. “My lawyer and I are preparing the next steps to resolve this case, which is clearly politically motivated related to the local fight in San Juan,” he said.
The senator earlier said the case against him could be the handiwork of his political rivals.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.