JV Ejercito suspended from Senate for 90 days as he faces graft
The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division ordered the suspension of Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito from his Senate duties for 90 days as he faces a graft charge for the anomalous purchase of firearms using calamity funds.
In a resolution, the anti-graft court said it approved the Office of the Special Prosecutor’s motion to suspend Ejercito and his co-accused city administrator Ranulfo Dacalos, treasurer Rosalinda Marasigan, attorney Romualdo delos Santos, budget officer Lorenza Ching and engineer Danilo Mercado as they face a graft trial.
“Accused Joseph Victor Ejercito is hereby suspended from his position as senator of the Republic of the Philippines, and from any other public office which he may now or hereafter be holding for a period of 90 days from receipt of this resolution, unless a motion for reconsideration is seasonably filed,” the court said.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor cited Section 13 of Republic Act 3019 which provides that public officials charged with a valid information of graft will be preventively suspended from office and will lose his or her benefits at the time of his or her suspension.
“With the arraignment of all of the accused on April 18, 2016, the validity of the information filed against them is no longer in question. Suspension must follow as a matter of course,” the prosecutors said in their motion.
Ejercito was charged with graft for the anomalous purchase of high-powered rifles worth P2.1 million using calamity funds 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 the Interior and Local Government which did not include high-powered firearms among the items needed for disaster relief and mitigation.
Ejercito will serve as senator until 2019.
In the Sixth Division, Ejercito was also charged with technical malversation with San Juan Vice Mayor Francis Zamora over the anomalous purchase of the firearms.
The anti-graft court Fifth Division is also hearing the plunder case against Ejercito’s half brother Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center for his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.
Jinggoy is Loi Ejercito’s son, while JV is Gomez’s son, with former President Joseph Estrada.
In 2007, now Manila mayor Estrada was convicted of plunder by the Sandiganbayan on jueteng kickbacks. He was later pardoned by then President Gloria Arroyo. CDG/rga
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