JV Ejercito asks court’s nod to file motion to junk graft rap
Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito has asked the Sandiganbayan for leave to file a demurrer to evidence in a bid to dismiss his graft charge over the anomalous purchase of firearms using calamity funds when he was San Juan mayor.
Ejercito asked the anti-graft court Fifth Division for permission to file a demurrer to evidence as a legal remedy to dismiss the evidence presented against him by the prosecution for the latter’s failure to prove that Ejercito used the calamity funds for the procurement of firearms.
Ejercito filed the motion for leave to file demurrer after the Office of the Special Prosecutor finished presenting its witnesses who testified against Ejercito in his graft trial.
The graft charge, or violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, stemmed from the allegedly anomalous procurement of high-powered rifles worth P2.1 million using the city’s calamity funds although the city was not under a state of calamity when Ejercito was San Juan mayor in 2008.
In the graft information, the Ombudsman prosecutors said the purchase of the firearms was done without public bidding and post-qualification and that the winning bidder, HK Tactical Defense System Inc. (HKTDSI), submitted bid documents bearing dates earlier than the publication of invitation to bid, which showed that there was unwarranted benefit given to the supplier.
The firearms purchased 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.
In his motion for leave, Ejercito said the prosecution failed to prove that the firearms purchase was overpriced and disadvantageous to government.
“What the prosecution’s evidence disclosed is that San Juan City suffered no injury or damage whatsoever from the procurement of the firearms… Neither did the prosecution prove that the firearms supplied by HKTDSI were substandard or overpriced,” Ejercito’s motion read.
Ejercito concluded his motion by asking the court’s nod for him to file a demurrer to evidence and pleaded to the court to dismiss the case for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt.
“Wherefore, it is respectfully prayed that the accused be allowed leave to file demurrer to evidence, and upon being so allowed, this case be dismissed for failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt,” Ejercito said.
In his demurrer attached to his motion for leave, Ejercito said the calamity fund remains intact and was not used to pay HKTDSI for the firearms deal.
Ejercito said the prosecution’s witnesses only proved that the firearms were purchased using the city’s general fund.
The senator said the use of the calamity fund to buy firearms is allowed under a joint Department of Budget and Management and Department of Interior and Local Government memorandum circular.
The said circular allowed the use calamity fund for relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction in connection with man-made disasters resulting from unlawful acts of insurgents, terrorists and other criminals.
Ejercito blamed the Sangguniang Panglungsod (city council), which he said, passed the City Ordinance 9 and 10 that specified the brand name of the firearms.
Ejercito said he approved the city ordinances deferring to the “sovereign wisdom” of the council.
Finally, Ejercito said there was no evidence on record to show that the HKTDSI knew beforehand the bidding details and requirements merely on the basis of the dates and contents of its bid documents.
“In view of the foregoing, the prosecution did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence in acquiring firearms for San Juan city,” his demurrer said in conclusion.
Ejercito is facing a separate technical malversation charge before the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division for the issuance of an ordinance that allowed the use of the calamity funds for high-powered firearms. RAM/rga
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