• Sandigan upholds acquittal of ‘JV’ Ejercito


    The Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division has stood pat on its ruling that acquitted Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito and several others in a technical malversation case that was filed against them over the allegedly anomalous procurement of firearms in 2008 when he was San Juan City mayor.

    Earlier, the prosecution asked the anti-graft court to reconsider its decision, which granted a demurrer to evidence filed by 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 and Joseph Torralba; and a demurrer to evidence filed by former City Councilors Angelino Mendoza, Rolando Bernardo and Francisco Zamora.

    But the Sandiganbayan denied the motion for reconsideration “for lack of merit” in a resolution which, citing a 2015 Supreme Court (SC) ruling, said, “A judgment of acquittal is immediately final and executory upon its promulgation. As a general rule, it can neither be appealed nor reconsidered because it will place the accused under double jeopardy.”

    “The order granting the demurrer to evidence filed by the accused is an adjudication on the merits of the case, and is tantamount to an acquittal,” the court said, citing a 2007 SC ruling.

    The Office of the Ombudsman filed the case at the Sandiganbayan last year, alleging that the then-respondents applied the city’s calamity fund for a purpose different from which it was intended when they supposedly authorized and caused the use of such fund to purchase the firearms.

    In its decision in August, the court’s Sixth Division found that the prosecution’s 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.”

    This prompted the prosecution to seek reconsideration.

    “It was proven beyond reasonable doubt that the calamity fund was indeed used to purchase the subject firearms,” the prosecution argued.

    But the Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division found “nothing new in the arguments raised by the prosecution in its motion.”

    It said, “The prohibition on double jeopardy admits of the following exceptions: 1] deprivation of due process and mistrial; and 2] grave abuse of discretion under exceptional circumstances. However, these exceptions do not exist in this case. While the prosecution ascribes grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of this court, this issue is not a proper subject of a motion for reconsideration.”
    The court thus denied the prosecution’s motion for reconsideration.


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