Ex-police official cleared by appellate court in used-helicopters deal



MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals (CA) has cleared a retired ranking police officer from involvement in the alleged anomalous purchase of used helicopters passed off as new in 2009.

In an Aug. 14 ruling, the CA Sixth Division ordered the reversal and setting aside of a decision by the Ombudsman in 2012, which found Leocadio Salva Cruz Santiago, former Special Action Force chief of the Philippine National Police, administratively liable for serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

The Ombudsman had ordered the dismissal of Santiago and his co-accused police officers as well as the forfeiture of their retirement benefits and their perpetual disqualification from public office.

Santiago was among the officers held liable in the helicopter controversy by the Ombudsman on May 30, 2012. The Ombudsman reaffirmed its verdict in a Nov. 5, 2012, resolution that denied a motion for reconsideration of its early decision.

Acting on the petition for review by Santiago, who elevated his case to the CA, the appellate division said it found merit in his petition.

The court said there was no substantial evidence to show that Santiago was guilty of serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

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