MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s 5th Division ordered the arrest of Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito and 5 others for the alleged misuse of San Juan City funds when he was still mayor.
The arrest order, dated April 4 but released to the media only on Wednesday, April 6, involves the graft charges that the Ombudsman filed against Ejercito and other San Juan officials before the Sandiganbayan last week.
The case involves the alleged unlawful diversion of P2.1 million ($45,360) in calamity funds for the purchase of high-powered firearms for the city’s police department. The transaction was completed in 2008, when Ejercito was San Juan mayor.
The others ordered arrested are members of the city government’s Bids and Awards Committee: City Administrator Ranulfo Dacalos, Treasurer Rosalinda Marasigan, City Attorney Romualdo Delos Santos, City Budget Officer Lorenza Ching, and City Engineer Danilo Mercado.
The Ombudsman said the officials have violated Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or Republic Act No. 3019.
The Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) has been given a copy of the arrest warrant.
The court set bail at P30,000.
The Ombudsman filed graft and malversation charges against Ejercito and 19 others on March 30. This was based on the indictment for graft and technical malversation against them that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales approved in December 2015.
The April 4 arrest warrant does not cover the technical malversation charges filed against Ejercito and other San Juan officials, which is being handled by another Sandiganbayan division.
Ejercito is the son of former president now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada with reelectionist San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez. His half-brother, detained senator Jinggoy Estrada, has been at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame since mid-2014 for plunder charges in connection with the pork barrel scam.
Ejercito blamed local opponents for “politically motivating” the court order.
But San Juan Vice Mayor Francis Zamora defended that the case against the incumbent senator has been established by the Ombudsman in its investigation.
“There was only one supplier for the firearms. It was established that there was an irregularity in the procurement process for this transaction during JV’s term as mayor. The evidence gathered strengthened the case against Senator JV Ejercito,” Zamora said in a statement.
Zamora, son of Representative Ronaldo Zamora, is running for mayor – against Ejercito’s mother, incumbent mayor Guia Gomez.
The Estradas and Zamoras used to be long-time allies until the latter opposed Gomez’s 2016 mayoral bid. Representative Zamora was the executive secretary of President Estrada. – Rappler.com
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