SC: Ex-PNP SAF chief liable in choppers deal | Inquirer News

SC: Ex-PNP SAF chief liable in choppers deal

/ 05:46 AM February 16, 2024

Leocadio Santiago Jr.

Leocadio Santiago Jr. —NCRPO ROMY HOMILLADA.


The Supreme Court has found former police general and Special Action Force (SAF) chief Leocadio Santiago Jr. administratively liable for the anomalous purchase in 2009 of two brand new police helicopters that later turned out to be secondhand. In a 14-page resolution published on Thursday, the high court granted the writ for certiorari filed by the Ombudsman Field Investigation Office against Santiago and reinstated a previous ruling that convicted him for serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.


In its resolution dated May 30, 2012, the Ombudsman found the former SAF chief and several other police officers administratively liable for the irregular acquisition of the secondhand helicopters for the Philippine National Police, resulting in their dismissal from the service plus the forfeiture of retirement benefits. They were also barred from holding public office.


The high court’s latest resolution effectively overturned a 2013 ruling from the Court of Appeals clearing Santiago of the said charges.

In 2009, the PNP ordered three standard helicopters worth P105 million from the Manila Aerospace Products and Trading (Maptra) that should be brand new, air-conditioned and with a minimum of three hours’ endurance.

However, Maptra delivered only one brand new Robinson Raven II while the two standard Robinson Raven I were found to be pre-owned by former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, according to the Ombudsman.

Arroyo was also charged with graft but the case against him was dropped by the Sandiganbayan based on a Supreme Court order in December 2021.

Serious damage to gov’t

In reversing the appellate court’s decision, the high tribunal said that Santiago was guilty of the said administrative liabilities when he executed resolutions attesting that Maptra was “legally, technically, and financially capable” of supplying the helicopters despite documents showing otherwise.

“That said misrepresentations resulted in serious damage and grave prejudice to the government is also undeniable, considering that the government was defrauded into procuring ‘brand new’ [Light Police Operational Helicopters] with certain specifications that turned out to be secondhand units that were far from the PNP’s specifications,” the high court said.


“Worse, the contract price amounted to over a hundred million pesos,” it added.

According to the court, the findings were substantial grounds to elevate the guilt of Santiago to “serious dishonesty,” which is defined by Civil Service Commission Resolution No. 06-0538 as a dishonest act that causes “serious damage and grave prejudice to the government.”

The court said it was also convinced the police official’s actions tarnished the image and integrity of the public office he occupied, citing his “flimsy defense” that he merely relied on the representations of other committees and his superior.

Santiago’s argument that it would also be “impossible” to require him to examine every process of the procurement when he was busy with police operations reflected the “unacceptable standard” he applied to his public office, it added.

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“To the court, there is no basis to hold public officers to such a low standard when no less than the constitution commands that public officers ‘must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice and lead modest lives,’” it said. —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH

TAGS: choppers, PNP‎, Supreme Court

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