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JV Ejercito suspended from Senate

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Anti-graft court Sandiganbayanon Tuesday issued a 90-day suspension order against Sen. Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito, who is facing graft charges.

The court earlier charged Ejercito and other San Juan City officials with graft and technical malversation over the alleged anomalous use of high-powered firearms worth P2.1 million in 2008.

The senator had posted bail last April 18 for the graft charges following the warrant of arrest against him. A hold departure order was also filed against Ejercito for the charges against him.

Ejercito, who was then the mayor of San Juan City, insisted that it was his duty to approve the purchase of firearms to address the crime situation in the city.

"Our 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," Ejercito said in a statement.

The senator said he does not regret his decision to purchase the high-powered firearms as it was his duty and responsibility to protect the city residents.

"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," the senator said.

Ejercito admitted that he was saddened by the suspension order issued by the Sandiganbayan but said that he respects the order.

"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," Ejercito said.

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