MANILA - Senator Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito has been cleared by the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division of graft charges on Thursday.
In a decision signed by Associate Justice Roland Jurado, Ejercito along with Ranulfo BA. Dacalos, Romualdo C. Delos Santos, Estrella Marasigan, Lorenza Catalan Ching, and Danilo Salcedo Mercado were acquitted of the graft charges against them.
Ejercito and his co-respondents were charged over the alleged unlawful diversion of San Juan City's calamity funds in the amount of P2.1-million for the purchase of high-powered firearms for local police.
Ejercito was accused of giving undue favor to firearms distributor HKTDSI. He earlier pleaded "not guilty" to the case.
The Sandiganbayan said there was no indication that Ejercito favored HKTDSI in the purchase.
"The letter request of accused Ejercito mentioned the purchase of high-powered firearms only, and never indicated any brand or model," the Sandiganbayan resolution read.
The Sandiganbayan also noted that it was the Sangguniang Panlungsod Ordinances 9 and 10 which specified the K1 and K2 models of firearms brand DAEWOO.
However, these resolutions had been repealed and modified by Ordinance 19.
While Ejercito has been acquitted of graft, he still faces a related technical malversation case in a separate Sandiganbayan division.
In a statement, Ejercito thanked the Sandiganbayan "for remaining true to their duty of upholding justice and fairness," noting that the decision will make his Christmas "truly happy."
"This decision should give our dedicated public servants, especially those in local government, the assurance that for as long as we have the interest of our people at heart, our justice system will protect us from those whose intention is to sow intrigue and whose motivations are purely partisan," Ejercito said.
Ejercito added that he is looking forward to return to work as senator.
"I look forward to returning to my official tasks as Senator of the Republic of the Philippines and continuing my advocacies on public transportation, youth empowerment, education, energy, housing and economic development," he said.