MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has ordered the 90-day suspension of Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito and 3 San Juan City officials over graft charges stemming from the alleged misuse of San Juan city funds in 2008.
“Accused Joseph Victor G. Ejercito us hereby suspended from his position as Senator of the Republic of the Philippines, and from any other public office which he may now or hereafter be holding for a period of ninety (90) days from receipt of this resolution, unless a motion for reconsideration is seasonably filed,” the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division said in a resolution released on Tuesday, August 23.
The others ordered suspended are members of the city government’s Bids and Awards Committee: City Administrator Ranulfo Dacalos, City Attorney Romualdo de los Santos, and City Budget Officer Lorenza Ching.
The court said the Office of the Senate President and the Office of the Mayor of San Juan will be furnished copies of its resolution for implementation.
The case involves the alleged unlawful diversion of P2.1 million ($45,148) 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 officials are accused of violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Ejercito: ‘I’ll do it again’
Unfazed by the court order, Ejercito said, “If faced with the same situation, I will not hesitate to do it again.”
“Let me reiterate that as San Juan City Mayor then, I felt that it was my duty to approve the purchase of firearms for our policemen as the crime situation had simply gotten out of hand….I do not regret such decision as it was my bounden duty and responsibility to protect the well-being of the city residents,” the senator said.
“I wish to make it clear that I respect the order of the court. In the same breath, however, I am fighting this legal battle without delay as deep in my heart I know I did the right thing and that justice in the end will be on my side,” he added. – Rappler.com
US$1 = P46.5