Sandiganbayan orders arrest of JV Ejercito for graft
The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has issued an arrest warrant against Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito in connection with his graft charge over the allegedly anomalous purchase of high-powered firearms when he was San Juan mayor.
The court issued the warrant after it found probable cause to try Ejercito for graft.
“After perusing the Information and carefully assessing the resolution of the Office of the Ombudsman, the evidence in support thereof and the records of the preliminary investigation attached thereto, the Court finds that sufficient grounds exist for the finding of probable cause for purpose of issuing warrant of arrest in this case,” the court said in a resolution dated April 4.
Also issued warrants were Ejercito’s co-accused–city administrator Ranulfo Dacalos, treasurer Rosalinda Marasigan, attorney Romualdo delos Santos, budget officer Lorenza Ching and engineer Danilo Mercardo.
The court set the bail amount at P30,000 for one count of graft, according to the warrant signed by acting chairperson Associate Justice Rafael Lagos and served to the San Juan city and Quezon city police chief.
Ejercito was charged for graft over the anomalous purchase of high-powered rifles worth P2.1 million when he was San Juan mayor in 2008.
According to the information, Ejercito conspired with other city officials to purchase high-powered firearms in February 2008 using the city’s calamity fund as “investment for disaster preparedness.”
The city council then passed a city ordinance allowing Ejercito to buy the firearms for the city’s police department.
Ejercito approved the purchase even though the city was not under a state of calamity when the purchase was made.
The firearms bought using the city’s calamity fund include: three units of model K2 cal. 5.56mm sub-machine guns and 17 units of Daewoo model K1 cal. 5.56 mm sub-machine guns.
The purchase of the firearms was done with haste without “competitive bidding and without any post-qualification, 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 prosecutors said.
The Ombudsman cited the joint circular between the Departments of Budget and Management as well as of Interior and Local Government which did not include high-powered firearms among the items needed for disaster relief and mitigation.
Ejercito, the son of former president and incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada with San Juan mayor Guia Gomez, will serve until 2019.
Ejercito was also charged with technical malversation with San Juan Vice Mayor Francis Zamora over the anomalous purchase of the firearms.
Zamora and Gomez will run against each other for San Juan mayor in the coming May 9 polls.
The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has yet to issue the arrest warrant against Ejercito and Zamora.
Ejercito’s half brother Sen. Jinggoy Estrada is detained for plunder over the alleged pork barrel scam. CDG
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