September 25, 2017, 1:29 am
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Ejercito asks Sandiganbayan to affirm acquittal

 SEN. Joseph Victor G. Ejercito and nine of his co-accused have asked the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division to affirm its August 10, 2017 decision that acquitted them of charges of technical malversation concerning alleged misuse of San Juan City’s calamity funds totaling P2.1 million in 2008.

Defense lawyers Philip Sigfrid A. Fortun and Diega D. Villanueva sought denial of the prosecution’s motion for reconsideration which argued that the court made an erroneous appreciation of the evidence submitted.

Ejercito, former San Juan City mayor, and other city officials were accused of diverting the local government unit’s calamity funds for the purchase of three Daewoo K2 Caliber 5.56 MM sub-machine guns and 17 Daewoo K1 Caliber 5.56 MM sub-machine guns from HK Tactical Defense System Inc.

Prosecutors noted that calamity funds are supposed to be used solely for programs or projects that involve preparations for disasters or rescue and rehabilitation. They said procurement of guns is not covered by such provision.

In acquitting the defendants, however, the Sandiganbayan noted that there was evidence introduced that showed the funding for gun purchase was sourced not from the city’s calamity funds but from its general funds.

The court pointed out that it was the prosecution itself that provided the documentary evidence showing that the calamity fund “was intact.”

The defense insisted the court has made the correct ruling.

“Had the calamity fund been truly illegally diverted to purchase the subject firearms, COA (Commission on Audit) would have disallowed the transaction on audit or issued a notice or memorandum declaring the transaction or the Ordinances to be invalid or illegal or irregular,” it added. -- Peter J.G. Tabingo
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