MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the dismissal of Philippine National Police (PNP) officials over the anomalous choppers deal.
The SC reinstated the findings of the Ombudsman in 2012 as well as its order to dismiss from service 13 police officials and 1 personnel, the Office of the Ombudsman said on Thursday, February 1.
The affirmed dismissal order covers:
- Police Director Leocadio Santiago Jr
- Police Director George Piano
- Police Senior Superintendent (P/SSupt) Job Nolan Antonio
- P/SSupt Edgar Paatan
- P/SSupt Mansue Lukban
- P/SSupt Claudio Gaspar Jr
- Police Chief Superintendents (P/CSupt) Herold Ubalde
- P/CSupt Luis Saligumba
- Police Superintendents (P/Supt) Ermilando Villafuerte
- P/Supt Roman Loreto
- Police Chief Inspector Maria Josefina Recometa
- Senior Police Officer 3 (PO3) Ma. Linda Padojinog
- PO3 Avensuel Dy
- Non-uniformed Personnel Ruben Gongona
“Aside from dismissal from the service, the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office and forfeiture of retirement benefits were likewise meted on them,” the Office of the Ombudsman said.
The case stems from a 2009 procurement of the PNP of two standard Robinson R44 Raven I light police operational helicopters (LPOH) worth P62,672,086.90, and one fully equipped Robinson R44 Raven II LPOH worth P42,312,913.10.
The choppers were declared and priced to be brand new, but investigation showed they were second hand, and pre-owned by the former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.
Arroyo was sued for graft along with the PNP executives, in a trial still ongoing before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.
The affirmation comes after the Court of Appeals (CA) in 2014 exonerated Piano of the administrative charges. The Ombudsman appealed it before the SC.
“The CA erred in exonerating [Piano] of the charge of Serious Dishonesty and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service as found by the Ombudsman,” the SC said.
It added: “Respondent [Piano] is the Chairman of the PNP Inspection and Acceptance Committee (IAC). The IAC plays a very important role in the procurement process of the agency, since it has the responsibility of inspecting the deliveries to make sure they conform to the quantity and approved technical specifications in the supply contract and the purchase order and to accept or reject the same.”
Piano signed the resolution, which confirmed that the choppers passed specifications and acceptance criteria.
The SC said Piano’s signing of the resolution “is a distortion of truth in a matter connected with the performance of his duties.” – Rappler.com