MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan has affirmed the conviction of former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Jesus Verzosa and five other retired police officers for their graft case.
In a 23-page resolution dated July 19, the special court affirmed that Verzosa and other officers are guilty of one count of graft or violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
“Wherefore, finding no cogent reason to disturb the assailed decision promulgated on June 25, 2021, this court hereby denies the following (motions for reconsideration) for lack of merit,” the Sandiganbayan said.
The resolution of the anti-graft court’s third division denied the motions for reconsideration filed by Verzosa, retired lieutenant generals Benjamin Belarmino Jr. and Jefferson Soriano, retired major generals Luizo Ticman and Romeo Hilomen, and retired brigadier general Villamor Bumanglag.
The six former high-ranking police officers sought to reverse the Sandiganbayan’s decision, which sentenced them to six to eight years of imprisonment, with perpetual disqualification from holding public office. The latest Sandiganbayan resolution was penned by Associate Justice Bernelito R. Fernandez, with Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Ronald B. Moreno concurring.
What did the court find?
- Conspiracy. The anti-graft court found that all the accused conspired to give unwarranted benefit, advantage, and preference to suppliers EnviroAire Inc, Geneve SA Corp., and Bay Industrial Phil. Under the officers’ watch, P131.55 million worth of rubber boats and outboard motors were procured in 2009.
- Unusable boats. During Verzosa and the others’ trial, the team of Ombudsman prosecutors found that the Zodiac FC 470 Futura Commando rubber boats intended for disaster response and rescue were unusable because they were incompatible with the Mercury 60hp outboard motor.
- Still a bigger role for Verzosa. The Sandiganbayan said that although the former PNP chief invoked good faith in approving the contract based on the recommendations of the PNP Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) and the Inspection and Acceptance Committee, Verzosa still played a bigger role as the head of the procuring entity. The anti-graft court added that the former PNP chief was expected to “exercise extra diligence” with the amount of money involved.
- Obligation to check. The special court added that even though the PNP had a negotiated procurement, the National Headquarters (NHQ)-BAC had the obligation to ascertain that the suppliers were compliant with technical, financial, and legal requirements. Soriano, Ticman, Hilomen, Belarmino, and Bumanglag were members of the NHQ-BAC and recommended that the outboard motors be purchased separately from the rubber boats.
- Verzosa’s other case. In 2012, the Ombudsman filed graft charges before the Sandiganbayan against Verzosa, former first gentleman Mike Arroyo, and 20 others over the sale of second-hand choppers to the PNP. A year before, in 2011, some senators probing the choppers said the assets may have been used in 2004 poll cheating. – Rappler.com