Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the filing of graft charges against retired Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa and seven other ranking police officers in the Sandiganbayan in connection with the alleged anomalous purchase of 75 defective rubber boats worth P131.5 million in 2008.
In a 34-page order signed Feb. 12, Morales denied their motions for reconsideration and affirmed the earlier resolution of her office dated Sept. 26, 2012, finding probable cause to indict the accused.
Aside from Versoza, to stand trial are Police Deputy Directors General Jefferson Soriano and Benjamin Belarmino Jr., Directors Luizo Ticman, Ronald Roderos and Romeo Hilomen, Chief Supt. Herold Ubalde, and Chief Supt. Villamor Bumanglag for violation of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
All the respondents, except for Roderos, filed separate motions for reconsideration.
In denying their motions, the Ombudsman said the arguments presented by the respondents were “a mere rehash of their initial arguments set forth in their counter-affidavits which we already considered, weighed and resolved before we rendered the resolution sought to be considered.”
The case stemmed from the complaint and supplemental complaint filed on Nov. 15, 2011, and Feb. 17, 2012, respectively, by the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the military and other law enforcement offices (OMB-MOLEO).
Records showed that the PNP bought in 2008 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 PNP entered into four separate supply contracts dated Dec. 18, 2009, with Enviroaire, a supplier, for 93 units of outboard motors for P44,175,000, and 10 police rubber boats for P11,650,000; with Geneve, for the purchase of 41 rubber boats for P47,765,000; and with Bay Industrial for 10 units at P11,650,000.
The Ombudsman said that upon delivery of the first batch of rubber boats and outboard motors, the PNP Maritime Group, through its Technical Inspection Committee on Watercrafts (MG-TICW), found various deficiencies in the equipment, making them risky to users, while the boats and engines were not functional when fitted together, making them unusable for the PNP’s disaster operations.
The special panel of investigators that handled the case found that the government suffered undue injury in the amount of P131.55 million due to the irregular purchase of the rubber boats.
Morales earlier imposed administrative sanctions ranging from dismissal from the service and forfeiture of retirement benefits on the 11 accused high-ranking police officials.
In a decision dated Jan. 22, Morales declared Ubalde and Belarmino liable for gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct. The two were ordered dismissed from the service.
The Ombudsman also ordered the forfeiture of their retirement benefits and their perpetual disqualification from public office. If the penalty can no longer be served by reason of resignation or retirement, the alternative penalty of a fine equivalent to one year’s 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, all members of the PNP’s inspection and acceptance committee, liable for simple neglect of duty. They were ordered suspended for six months without pay.
Joel CL Garcia, aka Joel Crisostomo de Leon Garcia, Ronald Lee, Ma. Linda Padojinog and Ruben Gongona, all members of the PNP national headquarters’ bids and awards committee and technical working group, were 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 (Napolcom) Director Conrado Sumanga Jr. was given a stern warning by Morales to be more circumspect in the performance of his duties.