Sandiganbayan explains why it junked graft case vs JV Ejercito
MANILA — The Sandiganbayan has affirmed the acquittal of Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito for graft over the allegedly anomalous purchase of P2.1-million worth of high-powered firearms when he was the San Juan City mayor in 2008.
In a five-page resolution dated Feb. 20, the court’s Fifth Division denied the appeal of state prosecutors on the Dec. 22 resolution that junked one of Ejercito’s two criminal cases for lack of evidence.
The court said the motion for reconsideration filed by the Ombudsman’s Office of the Special Prosecutor failed to “address the crux behind the granting of the demurrers to evidence of the accused.”
It noted that “there is totally no discussion” in the appeal regarding the court’s finding that Ejercito did not take part in ordering the procurement of a specific brand of firearms in violation of the
Government Procurement Reform Act.
The court also said the prosecutors did not discuss the “apparent disparity” in the graft accusation regarding the entity that was actually given unwarranted benefit in the deal.
Although prosecutors have named lone supplier HK Tactical Defense System, Inc. (HKTDSI) as the entity that stood to gain from the transaction, the court maintained that it was a mere distributor.
The court said Daewoo, not HKTDSI, manufactured the 17 units of Daewoo K1 5.56 MM Cal. submachine guns, three units of Daewoo K2 5.56 MM submachine guns, and 10 units of HK UMP .45 CAL NATO submachine guns
that were unlawfully specified in the purchase request.
Even then, it reiterated that the Ombudsman did not charge any private individual related to HKTDSI for the alleged anomaly.
The resolution added that there was not even a discussion of the undue injury that was caused to the government in order to sustain a graft conviction.
The court also said that since the grant of the demurrers effectively amounted to an acquittal, it could no longer be appealed without putting the accused officials in double jeopardy.
Justice Rafael R. Lagos penned the resolution, with the concurrence of Justices Reynaldo P. Cruz and Maria Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega.
Acquitted alongside Ejercito were: city administrator Ranulfo Dacalos, city attorney Romualdo delos Santos, treasurer Rosalinda Estrella Marasigan, budget officer Lorenza Catalan Ching, and engineer Danilo
A separate but related case for technical malversation concerning the alleged misappropriation of calamity funds for the gun purchase is still pending trial at the Sixth Division. SFM
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