Ejercito pleads not guilty in technical malversation case

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The Office of the Ombudsman said Sen. JV Ejercito illegally procured firearms as San Juan city mayor in 2008 using P2.1 million of the city’s calamity fund.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Senator JV Ejercito on Thursday pleaded not guilty to technical malversation charges in connection with the purchase of weapons for the police when he was mayor of San Juan City.

Ejercito is accused of authorizing the use of the city’s calamity fund to purchase the firearms for the police in 2008.

On March 30, the Ombudsman filed graft and technical malversation cases against Ejercito, saying the firearms purchase was done with haste and that the weapons were not needed for disaster relief and mitigation.

Ejercito told reporters he had to take action then and purchase the weapons because of the deteriorating peace and order situation in the city.

"I acted based on the situation at that time na malala ang peace and order situation,” Ejercito said in an interview Thursday. [I acted based on the situation at that time when the peace and order (in San Juan) is really bad.]

According to Office of the Ombudsman, Ejercito conspired with other city officials in February 2008 to purchase the firearms using the city’s calamity fund and justifying it as “investment for disaster preparedness.”

"I’m proud that those [pieces of] equipment are still being used right now,” Ejercito said.

The senator posted a P6,000 bail on June 22, after the Sandiganbayan ordered his arrest.

Six of his co-accused, also former officials of San Juan, pleaded not guilty as well.

The court set the case for pre-trial on September 8.

CNN Philippines' AC Nicholls contributed to this report.

Also read: Sen. JV Ejercito enters 'not guilty' plea for graft case