JV Ejercito pleads not guilty to graft, vows to clear name
Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito on Monday pleaded not guilty to a graft case he is facing in the Sandiganbayan over the allegedly anomalous purchase of high-powered firearms using San Juan City’s calamity fund when he was still city mayor in 2008.
Ejercito attended his arraignment with his counsel Atty. Sigfrid Fortun in the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division.
The Sandiganbayan ordered him arrested last April 6 after it found “sufficient grounds” to proceed with the graft and malversation charges filed by the Office of the Ombudsman. A day later, he posted a P30,000 bail for his temporary freedom.
Aside from Ejercito, his five other co-accused, city administrator Ranulfo Dacalos, treasurer Rosalinda Marasigan, attorney Romualdo delos Santos, budget officer Lorenza Ching and engineer Danilo Mercardo, also pleaded not guilty.
After appearing for his arraignment, the senator took to Facebook to express his confidence that the court will clear his name.
“Just attended my very first court hearing for a suit filed against me as an accused. I have never had a court case and had been very careful to keep my track record as a public servant clean, and my reputation unblemished. My lawyer, Atty. Sig Fortun and I both agreed not to delay the case any further. We are confident that the evidence and witnesses we have will show who is right and what indeed happened. I want to get this case over and done with as soon as possible. Justice delayed is justice denied. Seeking justice to clear my name,” the son of former President and now Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada said on his Facebook account.
Ejercito was charged with graft for his allegedly anomalous purchase of high-powered firearms worth P2.1 million using San Juan’s calamity fund in 2008.
The firearms bought using the city’s calamity fund included 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 city then was not under a state of calamity.
According to the Ombudsman, 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.”
Aside from the graft case, Ejercito was also charged at the Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division with technical malversation, along with incumbent San Juan City Vice Mayor Francis Zamora and other city officials, for the allegedly anomalous firearms purchase.
He will serve as senator until 2019. RAM