SEN. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito entered a plea of not guilty during his arraignment on a graft case filed against him in connection with the allegedly anomalous purchase of high-powered firearms in 2008 when he was San Juan mayor.
Ejercito, assisted by his lawyer Philip Sigfrid Fortun, was arraigned Monday morning at the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division after the Ombudsman found probable cause for the case to proceed to trial earlier this month.
Five other respondents also pleaded not guilty after the charge was read to them.
These include former City Administrator Ranulfo Dacalos, who was also then-Chairperson of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), and former BAC members, namely, former ICO-City Treasurer Rosalinda Marasigan, former City Legal Officer Romualdo de los Santos, former City Budget Officer Lorenza Ching, and former City Engineer Danilo Mercado.
Earlier, the Office of the Ombudsman filed the case, alleging the respondents procured and paid for the firearms in the amount of P2.1 million “without the required competitive public bidding, post qualification, and legal appropriation…”
The court’s Fifth Division scheduled the pretrial on June 9.
“I don’t want this delayed any further, let us finish this because we are very, very confident with the evidence that we have,” Ejercito told reporters. “You have no fear if you are not guilty, so I want this to be finished already.” REINA TOLENTINO