CA affirms graft indictment of Coast Guard official
MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the indictment of a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) captain over alleged anomalous cash advances.
CA Special 15th Division Associate Justice Carmelita Salandanan Manahan junked the petition of PCG captain Christopher Villacorte to thumb down the Ombudsman’s indictment of him and 3 other officials. (READ: Ombudsman orders suspension of Coast Guard chief, 24 others)
In the 17-page decision, Villacorte, retired admiral Rodolfo Isorena, said Captain Joeven Fabul and accounting head Rogelio Caguiao conspired to disregard the competitive bidding process and instead granted P689,640,806 worth of cash advances to 21 special disbursing officers as of December 31, 2014. Of the said amount, P633,612,786 was liquidated.
The CA Special 15th Division found Villacorte guilty of serious dishonesty and conduct. As special disbursing officer, Villacorte had not only signed the documents needed for the cash advances to be finalized, but he also certified the cash advances as necessary and lawful.
“Consequently, these caused serious damage and grave prejudice to the government since the latter was not able to procure the needed properties at the lowest price possible through a competitive bidding. Thus, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service is present in this case,” the court said.
“Here, it is evidence that there is a flagrant disregard of law. Thus, grave misconduct is present in this case,” the appellate court added.
Still, Villacorte maintained the said cash advances were aboveboard, arguing that transactions were used to fund the training of personnel deployed to the West Philippine Sea and other training under the Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Story.
CA did not agree, however, arguing that the said training programs “are not within the extraordinary circumstances that will justify a resort to the alternative methods of bidding.”
“Furthermore, it must be noted that there is no imminent danger to life or property not other causes where immediate action is necessary,” said the court. – Rappler.com