Ombudsman suspends PNP chief Purisima
MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday, December 4, ordered the preventive suspension for 6 months of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima.
Eleven other PNP officials, including 3 generals, were also ordered suspended.
The order, signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, stems from the graft complaint filed last October against the PNP chief and at least 11 other police officials over the alleged misuse of gun owners' courier fees. Ombudsman Morales earlier formed a 5-lawyer panel to determine if there's enough evidence to file a court case against the embattled police chief.
Purisima and the 11 PNP officials will not be paid for the duration of the 6-month suspension.
The Ombudsman said the order will be sent to Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, who has administrative jurisdiction over the PNP and is tasked to implement the order.
Purisima is currently in Saudi Arabia for an official visit. He is scheduled to return to Manila on Monday, December 8.
The other PNP officials who were suspended are the following: Police Director Gil Meneses, former chief of the Civil Security Group; Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta; Chief Supt. Napoleon Estilles; Senior Supt. Allan Parreno; Senior Supt. Eduardo Acierto; Senior Supt. Melchor Reyes; Supt. Lenbell Fabia; Chief Insp. Sonia Calixto; Chief Insp. Nelson Bautista; Chief Insp. Ricardo Zapata; Senior Insp. Ford Tuazon.
The administrative and criminal complaints against Purisima stem from an alleged anomalous PNP delivery service contract with private company WERFAST Documentary Agency (WERFAST) in 2011.
The Ombudsman's Fact-Finding Investigation Bureau for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices (FFIB-MOLEO) initially probed the complaint and found sufficient basis for further investigation by the Ombudsman thus the creation of the panel in October.
Purisima and other officials ordered suspended may still file their respective motions for reconsideration within 5 to 10 days, said Deputy Ombudsman Gerard Mosquera.
Supposedly aimed at a more effective monitoring of gun ownership in the country, the PNP's Oplan Katok project entailed a courier service for the delivery of firearms license cards. WERFAST's services was contracted for this purpose.
The investigation showed that Purisima approved the contracted services of WERFAST without a required accreditation from the PNP Firearms Explosive Office (FEO) and the Department of Science and Technology-Postal Regulation Committee.
WERFAST's questionable track record was further uncovered by the Ombudsman's fact-finding unit.
Red flags including WERFAST's delayed incorporation, non-payment of taxes from 2011 to 2013, subcontracted logistical services due to incapacity, and a limited paid-up capital of P65,000 also surfaced in the course of the fact-finding investigation.
In the FFIB-MOLEO complaint, 11 other police officials were also linked to the charges of grave misconduct and serious dishonesty.
Purisima also faces separate graft and plunder complaints over allegations he built his official residence in Camp Crame, the so-called White House, through illegal donations. He is also accused of unexplained wealth for a property in Nueva Ecija. (READ: The PNP chief's Nueva Ecija property)
President Benigno Aquino III has consistently defended Purisima from corruption allegations, saying he did not know the PNP chief as someone who is "luxurious or greedy."
Aquino and Purisima go a long way back, a friendship that began when the latter was detailed to the Presidential Security Group under the administration of President Corazon Aquino. (READ: Aquino, General Purisima and the past that binds them)
It's been said, however, that Purisima does not enjoy the same friendly relationship with Roxas, who is tasked with implementing the suspension order.
In a separate case, the Ombudsman also ordered the suspension of at least 10 of the 13 police officials who were slapped with criminal and administrative complaints over the missing 1,004 AK-47 firearms allegedly sold to the New People's Army. (READ: PNP generals face raps over AK-47s in NPA hands)
The suspended officials are: Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta; Chief Supt. Regino Catiis; Senior Supt. Eduardo Acierto; Senior Supt. Allan Parreno; Supt. Nelson Bautista; Chief Insp. Ricky Sumalde; Chief Insp. Ricardo Zapata Jr; Chief Insp. Rodrigo Benedicto Sarmiento; SPO1 Eric Tan and SPO1 Randy De Sesto.
Three non-uniformed personnel were also ordered suspended.
The Ombudsman earlier created a separate team led by 5 lawyers to focus on the case.
At least 3 officers – Petrasanta, Parreno and Acierto – are involved in both the WERFAST and the AK-47 cases.
Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said it would be up to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to decide on how it would implement the suspension.
A possible course of action is to impose the suspension on the officers named in both cases simultaneously, Rafanan said. – with reports from Angela Casauay/Rappler.com
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