Gov’t prosecutors appeal acquittal of JV Ejercito on graft

Rappler.com
Gov’t prosecutors appeal acquittal of JV Ejercito on graft
Citing grave abuse of discretion by the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, government prosecutors are moving for the reversal of the court’s resolution

MANILA, Philippines – Government prosecutors want to reverse the order of the Sandiganbayan acquitting Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito and his 5 co-accused of graft. The case involves the alleged misuse of San Juan City’s calamity funds in 2008.

Citing grave abuse of discretion by the anti-graft court, government prosecutors have moved for the reversal of the court’s resolution.

The 5th division of the Sandiganbayan on December 22, 2016 acquitted Ejercito and 5 of his co-accused of graft charges. In a 45-page resolution, Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Roland Jurado granted a demurrer to evidence because the prosecution’s evidence failed to overcome the presumption of innocence.

But prosecutors argued there is no basis for the court to grant Ejercito’s demurrers to evidence because prosecutors had established that the accused gave undue advantage to HK Tactical Defense System Inc (HKTDSI), which supplied the city government with high-powered firearms.

Prosecutors said San Juan’s P2.1 million calamity fund was improperly disbursed for the purchase in 2008 of 3 K2 cal. 5.56mm sub-machine guns and 17 Daewoo model K1 cal. 5.56 mm sub-machine guns. Ejercito was San Juan mayor at the time.

Prosecution Bureau 10 director Lalaine Benitez and assistant special prosecutor Jedd Boco argued that the firearms supplier had advance information about bidding details a month before these were made public.

HKTDSI’s pre-qualification documents which were submitted March 17, 2008 already indicated a project reference number for the city government’s purchase – way ahead of the invitation to apply for eligibility and to bid (IAEB) was released on April 14 of the same year.

Prosecutors also pointed out that following a regular procurement process, a purchase request would have been filled up first then advertised through the IAEB. Only after a winning bidder is determined and a contract is signed would a purchase order be issued by the procuring agency, the prosecutors said.

But in the case of the San Juan City transaction, the purchase request and purchase order were made on the same day, May 22, 2008. The purchase request also came after the IAEB when it should have preceded it.

The identical dates of the purchase request and purchase order indicate manipulation in bidding.

“Unless the bidding process is manipulated, the purchase request and the purchase order will never bear the same date,” the prosecution asserted.

Charges vs Ejercito

Ejercito was accused of violating the rules that govern the use of calamity funds, approving the procurement without public bidding, and giving unwarranted benefit, advantage, and preference to HKTDSI. 

Ejercito’s other 5 co-accused include San Juan city administrator Ranulfo Barte Dacalos, city legal officer Romualdo Corpuz de los Santos, special assistant to the city mayor Lorenza Catalan Ching, and former city officials Rosalinda Marasigan and Danilo Mercado for alleged conspiracy.

The Sandiganbayan ruled in favor of Ejercito and his co-accused, saying undue injury was not proven since the circumstances of the award of the contract to the lone supplier was adequately shown by the prosecution’s own evidence. – Rappler.com

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