The Office of the Ombudsman filed graft charges against Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito and several others in connection with the allegedly anomalous purchase of high-powered firearms in 2008 when he was the mayor of San Juan City.
Ejercito and five others were accused of procuring and paying P2.1 million for three units of Daewoo K2 Caliber 5.56 MM sub-machine gun and 17 units of Daewoo K1 Caliber 5.56 MM sub-machine gun without public bidding.
Also charged at the Sandiganbayan were former City Administrator Ranulfo Dacalos, who was also the Chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee and BAC members former City Treasurer Rosalinda Marasigan, former City Legal Officer Romualdo Delos Santos, former City Budget Officer Lorenza Ching, and former City Engineer Danilo Mercado.
The Ombudsman said the money used to pay for the firearms was sourced from the city’s calamity fund.
The Ombudsman recommended P30,000 bail for each of the respondents.
Another complaint, this time for illegal use of public funds or property was filed against Ejercito and 14 others.
The other respondents were former San Juan Vice Mayor Leonardo Celles and former members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council) – Andoni Carballo, Vincent Pacheco, Angelino Mendoza, Dante Santiago, Rolando Bernardo, Grace Pardines, Domingo Sese, Francis Peralta, Edgardo Soriano, Jannah Ejercito-Surla, Francisco Zamora, Ramon Nakpil, and Joseph Torralba.
The Ombudsman alleged that the respondents authorized and caused the use of the city’s calamity fund to buy the firearms, “thereby applying said public fund for a purpose different from which such fund was intended and appropriated by law or ordinance.”
It recommended P6,000 bail for each of the respondents’ provisional liberty.
Ejercito said politics was behind his indictment.
“It is unfortunate that the Office of the Ombudsman denied my motion for reconsideration on the 2008 case of firearms procurement when I was San Juan City mayor,” he said, adding that his conscience is clear.
Ejercito denied committing technical malversation and that the firearms purchase was done according to the law.
“That is why COA (Commission on Audit) cleared us from any disallowance,” he pointed out.
According to him the charges are clearly politically motivated.
Ejercito’s mother, San Juan City mayor Guia Gomez, is seeking reelection. He rival, vice Mayor Francis Zamora, son of former Executive Secretary and San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, was a close ally of the Estrada family.
WITH JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA