Sandigan acquits senator of technical malversation

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The Sandiganbayan’s Second Division, “on the ground of reasonable doubt,” has acquitted Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito and several others in a technical malversation case filed against them in connection with the allegedly anomalous procurement of firearms in 2008 when he was San Juan City mayor.

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The court granted the respective demurrers to evidence of and acquitted Ejercito; former San Juan Vice Mayor and now City Councilor Leonardo Celles; City Councilor Vincent Pacheco; former City Councilor and now Public Information Officer Grace Pardines and; former City Councilors Andoni Carballo, Dante Santiago, Francis Peralta, Edgardo Soriano, Jannah Ejercito-Surla, Joseph Torralba, Angelino Mendoza, Rolando Bernardo, Francisco Zamora, Domingo Sese (deceased) and Ramon Nakpil (deceased).

“After a careful assessment of the documentary and testimonial evidence of the prosecution, the court finds that the said evidence failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the fund used in the procurement and payment of the subject high-powered firearms or part thereof was sourced from the San Juan City 2008 Calamity Fund,” it said in part in a 23-page decision.

A demurrer to evidence is a motion to dismiss that submits the case for judgment based only on the prosecution’s evidence, on the ground that the evidence does not warrant conviction.

If a demurrer to evidence is denied, the defense would have to take its turn to present its evidence.

Ejercito on Friday said his acquittal by the Sandiganbayan of the technical malversation charges against him has reaffirmed his faith in the judicial system.

“I thank the good justices of the Sandiganbayan for remaining true to their duty of upholding justice and fairness,” he added.

with REINA TOLENTINO

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