11 police officers get sanctions over P131M rubber-boat scandal
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has imposed administrative sanctions ranging from dismissal from service and forfeiture of retirement benefits against 11 high-ranking Philippine National Police officials over the PNP’s irregular purchase of 75 defective rubber boats worth P131.5 million in 2008.
In a decision dated Jan. 22, Morales declared Police Chief Supt. Herold Ubalde and Deputy Director General Benjamin Belarmino Jr. liable for gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct. The two were meted the penalty of dismissal from the service.
In addition, the Ombudsman imposed the accessory penalties of forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification to hold public office. If the penalty can no longer be served by reason of resignation or retirement, the alternative penalty of fine equivalent to one-year salary is to be imposed, in addition to the accessory penalties, the Ombudsman said.
Morales also found Police Director George Piano, Chief Supt. Luis Saligumba, Senior Supt. Job Nolan Antonio and Senior Supt. Edgar Paatan, who are all members of the PNP’s inspection and acceptance committee, liable for simple neglect of duty. They were meted the penalty of six months’ suspension without pay.
Joel CL Garcia aka Joel Crisostomo de Leon Garcia, Ronald Lee, Ma. Linda Padojinog, and NUP Ruben Gongona, all members of the PNP national headquarters’ bids and awards committee and technical working group, were also ordered suspended for one month without pay.
For his failure to take a “more proactive” stance as a member of the oversight committee and acting service chief of the Installations and Logistic Service, National Police Commission Director Conrado Sumanga Jr. was given a stern warning by Morales to be more circumspect in the performance of his duties.
Records showed that the PNP in 2008 bought through a negotiated procurement plan 75 rubber boats and 18 spare engines or outboard motors for the PNP Maritime Group under the Capability Enhancement Program Funds.
The purchase was made following the devastation brought by Tropical Storm “Ondoy” and Typhoon “Pepeng” in 2008.
Deficiencies in equipment
According to the Ombudsman, the PNP Maritime Group’s technical inspection committee on watercraft found that there were deficiencies in the equipment and that they were dangerous to use.
Investigation also revealed that the boats and engines were not actually compatible and were not functional, the Ombudsman said.
The Ombudsman spared from prosecution former PNP Police Chief Director General Jesus Verzosa, along with 18 others, for lack of jurisdiction in view of their retirement before the complaint was filed in 2011. Verzosa retired in September 2010.
17 others exonerated
Also exonerated for lack of sufficient evidence were 17 other respondents.
In September 2012, the Ombudsman ordered the filing of graft charges against Verzosa and several other PNP officers before the Sandiganbayan for the same acts.
Aside from Verzosa, also charged for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act were Police Deputy Director General Jefferson Soriano, Belarmino Jr., Police Directors Luizo Ticman, Ronald Roderos, Romeo Hilomen, Ubalde and Chief Supt. Villamor Bumanglag.