Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito opposed the prosecution’s move to suspend him pending litigation of the graft complaint filed against him saying “it will interrupt public service.”
The prosecution asked the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division to preventively suspend Ejercito and his co-accused Ranulfo Dacalos, Romualdo de los Santos, and Lorenza Ching, the administrator, legal officer, and special assistant, respectively, of San Juan City. The complaint against them stemmed from the alleged anomalous purchase of high-powered firearms in 2008 when Ejercito was the mayor of San Juan.
“Accused Ejercito is currently serving as senator and has co-authored more than 100 bills during his tenure. His priorities and advocacies are education, job creation, the protection of workers, and peace and prosperity in Mindanao. His suspension will cause a halt, albeit temporary, in the progress of his projects and advocacies, and will interrupt public service,” the defense said in its comment submitted to the anti-graft court.
The defense added that suspending Dacalos, de los Santos, and Ching “could cause a standstill in the services of the city to the detriment of the San Juan City residents.”
In its Motion to Suspend Accused Pendente Lite (pending litigation), the prosecution invoked Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Ant-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act which mandates the preventive suspension of incumbent public officers facing a valid graft charges.
But the defense said “there is no reason to grant the motion as the accused are not a threat to the unimpeded resolution of the case” and that most of the prosecution’s witnesses are also the defendant’s witnesses.
“Thus, there is no reason to believe that the accused will intimidate the witnesses through an abuse of their public positions,” the defense said.
In added that the court must determine whether there is a valid reason to suspend the respondents “considering that there is no opportunity for them to manipulate the facts of the case and the supporting documents, all of which are now in the possession of the prosecution.”
The defense asked the court to deny the prosecution’s motion “for being unjustified and without merit.”
The Office of the Ombudsman accused the respondents of procuring P2.1 million worth of firearms without public bidding.