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CA exonerates 2 PNP officials in P105M helicopter deal

/ 05:46 PM February 09, 2015

MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals on Monday exonerated two high-ranking police officials implicated in the questionable purchase of P105 million worth of helicopters.

In a 10-page decision, the appeals court 10th Division through Associate Justice Elihu Ybañez granted the petition filed by police superintendents Roman Loreto and Emilando Villafuerte which sought the reversal of the 2012 order by the Office of the Ombudsman that found them and 12 others guilty of serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

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The appeals court said the Ombudsman erred in ruling that the two officials were part of the conspiracy to defraud the government over the purchase of overpriced second-hand helicopters.

“In the present case, no records will show that petitioners took part in the alleged conspiracy. They were not signatories of any document pertaining to the procurement of the three helicopters…The petitioners were neither part of the team who inspected the procured helicopters nor were they signatories in the disbursement vouchers for the payment of the said helicopters. Hence, there is no direct evidence that will link them to the alleged conspiracy,” the appeals court said.

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The appeals court pointed out that the inaction of the two police officials does not mean they participated in the anomaly.

The case stemmed from the PNP’s questionable purchase from MAPTRA of a fully equipped Robinson R44 Raven II Light Police Operational Helicopter (LPOH) for P42,312,913.10 and two standard Robinson R44 Raven I LPOHs for P62,672,086.90, or for a total amount of P104,985,000 from 2009 to 2010.

The Ombudsman investigators discovered that MAPTRA has no technical and financial eligibility required by law. The Ombudsman also discovered that MAPTRA delivered only one brand new Robinson Raven II LPOH while the two delivered Robinson Raven I LPOHs were actually pre-owned by former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

The appeals court said based on the evidence submitted, Loreto was absent in the June 15, 2009 negotiation which eventually led to the awarding of the supply contract to MAPTRA.

Although Villafuerte was present in the June 15, 2009 negotiation, the appeals court said there are no records to show that he has the power to recommend or decide on the negotiations that was conducted. He was merely ordered to prepare the supply contract.

The appeals court added that both officials were members of the Bids and Awards Secretariat whose duties exclude making decisions or reviewing any documents.

“Their functions only consist of facilitating the bidding process, center of communication and custodian of procurement documents. This functions are ministerial in character as their functions serve as administrative support for the BAC,” the appeals court said.

Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Isaias Dicdican and Carmelita Manahan.

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TAGS: Court of Appeals, Helicopter Deal, Jose Miguel Arroyo, Ombudsman, Philippine National Police
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