The Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division stood pat on its ruling acquitting Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito and five others in a graft case in connection with the alleged anomalous purchase of high-powered firearms worth P2.1 million in 2008 when he was San Juan city mayor.
In December last year, the court granted Ejercito’s demurrer to evidence and thus acquitted him along with City Administrator Ranulfo Dacalos who formerly led the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) and former BAC members Rosalinda Marasigan, Romualdo de los Santos, Lorenza Ching, and Danilo Mercado.
“The grant of a demurrer to evidence in a criminal case is a dismissal of the case on the merits and is equivalent to the acquittal of the accused,” the court said in a five-page resolution promulgated on Monday as it denied the prosecution’s motion for reconsideration.
“Considering that the demurrers to evidence of the accused were granted after the prosecution had rested its case, the accused are entitled to invoke their constitutional right against double jeopardy. Entertaining the present motion for reconsideration would violate such right,” the court added.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed the case last year, alleging that the firearms were procured and paid for without public bidding.
But in its December 22, 2016 resolution, the Sandiganbayan said that HK Tactical Defense System, Inc. was not given any advantage “because it was not the exclusive distributor of Daewoo guns and there is no evidence that these accused manipulated the elimination of other Daewoo suppliers.”
It also found no evidence that Ejercito pre-selected the brand because he only approved an ordinance which did away with the specific branding.