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Sandigan allows ‘JV’ to travel to France

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito can travel abroad after his petition to be allowed to travel to France in official capacity was granted by the Sandiganbayan yesterday.
In approving the motion, Ejercito is free to travel to France for parliamentary visit from June 27 to July 3 provided he submit to the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division the required documents that include the travel authority from Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel and the official itinerary.
Based on the documents he submitted to support his motion, the senator would be meeting with members of the French Senate, the France-Southeast Asia Inter-Parliamentary Group and the French Constitutional Council.
His meetings with the members of the National Assembly, the foreign minister, and the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy are still to be confirmed.
The prosecution opposed the motion to travel of Ejercito during the hearing yesterday, arguing that his presence in the said visit is dispensable and that he did not indicate in his motion the place where he would be staying in the duration of the trip.
Despite the opposition of the prosecution, the anti-graft court decided to grant the motion of Ejercito to travel abroad.
Ejercito in his motion explained that he is not a flight risk since as a senator of the Republic he owes fidelity to the people who catapulted him to become a senator.
“His scheduled quick return to the country also manifests the absence of any intention on his part to glee. He also previously posted a travel bond on the amount imposed by this honorable court. More importantly, accused commits himself to personally appear before this honorable court immediately upon his arrival,” his motion read.
The motion to travel is needed by Ejercito because he has a pending technical malversation case before the court over the alleged anomalous purchase of high-powered firearms worth P2.1 million during his incumbency as mayor of San Juan in 2008.
He was accused of conspiring with San Juan City officials, including former Vice Mayor Francis Zamora, for the acquisition of the guns in February to August 2008 using the calamity funds of the city.
The Office of the Ombudsman in indicting Ejercito said that there is no calamity at the time and the purchase was done in haste without competitive bidding and examination of the qualifications of the supplier.
Also yesterday, the court moved the scheduled trial of the said case to August 7 as it has to resolve yet the demurrer to evidence filed by the accused.
The demurrer to evidence seeks to dismiss the case on the grounds of insufficiency of evidence.
In February this year, the anti-graft court affirmed the dismissal of the graft case of Ejercito in connection with the purchase of high-powered guns.

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