SENATOR Joseph Victor Ejercito said he did “not regret” his decision, during his term as mayor, to use the calamity fund of San Juan City for the purchase of additional firearms forthe local police to fight criminality.
He is saddened by the decision of the Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan to suspend him for 90 days while the anti-graft court tackles the graft case filed against him for the alleged misappropriation of public funds.
“If faced with the same situation, I will not hesitate to do it again. I do not regret such decision as it was my bounden duty and responsibility to protect the well-being of the city residents,” said Ejercito.
Government prosecutors questioned Ejercito’s use of calamity funds to buy the firearms in 2008. The Commission on Audit (CoA) had told him that the fund cannot be used for that purpose. Subsequently, the municipal government passed a supplemental budget to cover the purchase.
Ejercito earlier stressed that the purchase of firearms was made pursuant to Joint DBM-DILG Circular No. 2003-1 which allowed the use of the local calamity fund for man-made disasters resulting from terrorist or criminal acts.
“I am truly saddened by the order issued by the Sandiganbayan. The order precludes me from discharging my duties as a duly elected senator while it is hearing the case involving the purchase of firearms for the police force while I was still mayor of San Juan City,” he said.
“Let me reiterate that as San Juan City mayor then, I felt that it was my duty to approve the purchase of firearms for our policemen as the crime situation had simply gotten out of hand,” said Ejercito.
He said that the San Juan police force needed more than moral support as it urgently needed firepower against criminals who virtually held the city under siege. “Thus, I approved the purchase of additional firearms for our police force to protect the lives and property of my constituents.”
The Duterte administration knows very well that its campaign against crime and illegal drugs requires that the Philippine National Police is well-equipped to run after criminals.
“Our law enforcers on the ground cannot hope to subdue criminals with sheer will power unless they have adequate firepower. This is precisely what I realized during my term as city mayor, and this is the reason why I did not hesitate to do the same thing when faced with similar circumstances in San Juan then,” he said.
“I wish to make it clear that I respect the order of the court. In the same breath, however, I am fighting this legal battle without delay as deep in my heart I know I did the right thing and that justice in the end will be on my side,” added Ejercito.