Sen. JV Ejercito, 19 San Juan local execs charged for anomalous firearms procurement

By Perfecto T. Raymundo

MANILA, Dec. 8 (PNA) — The Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) has found probable cause to charge former Mayor and now Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”, and technical malversation in connection with the anomalous procurement of high-powered firearms in February 2008.

Also facing charges for technical malversation are Vice-Mayor Leonardo Celles and City Councilors Andoni Carballo, Vincent Pacheco, Angelino Mendoza, Dante Santiago, Rolando Bernardo, Grace Pardines, Domingo Sese, Francis Peralta, Edgardo Soriano, Jannah Ejercito-Surla, Francisco Javier Zamora, Ramon Nakpil and Joseph Christopher Torralba.

The Ombudsman also found probable cause for violation of Section 3(e) of RA No. 3019 against the Bids and Awards Committee members, namely: City Administrator Ranulfo Dacalos, Treasurer Rosalinda Marasigan, City Attorney Romualdo Delos Santos, City Budget Officer Lorenza Ching and City Engineer Danilo Mercardo.

Dacalos, Marasigan, Delos Santos, Mercado and Accountant Alicia Barazon were also found guilty of misconduct and were ordered suspended without pay for six months.

Investigation found that in February 2008, Ejercito requested the City Council for authority to purchase high-powered firearms using its calamity fund.

Ejercito explained that the procurement was “an investment for disaster preparedness.”

In response, the councilors passed City Ordinance No. 9 (Series of 2008) authorizing Ejercito to purchase firearms for the San Juan Police Department.

In 2008, the respondents purchased three units of model K2 cal. 5.56mm sub-machine guns and 17 units of Daewoo model K1 cal. 5.56mm sub-machines guns in the total amount of Php2.1 million.

Under Department of Budget and Management-Department of Interior and Local Government (DBM-DILG) Circular No. 2003-1, high-powered firearms are not among the items contemplated for disaster relief and mitigation.

Also, there was no declaration placing San Juan under a state of calamity at that time.

In its 20-page joint resolution, the Ombudsman found a “hasty procurement of specific high-powered firearms of a particular brand sans competitive bidding and without any post-qualification, bolstered by bid documents bearing dates earlier than the publication of the invitation to bid, showing that an unwarranted benefit, advantage and preference” was accorded to the supplier.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said that Ejercito “acted in concert with the members of the city council who authorized him to purchase firearms using the city’s calamity funds paving the way for the application of public funds for a purpose different from the one for which they were originally appropriated by law.” (PNA)