Purisima asks court to dismiss graft rap in courier deal
Dismissed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima on Monday asked the Sandiganbayan to quash the graft information against him over an anomalous courier deal in 2011.
In his omnibus motion filed before the ant-graft court Sixth Division, Purisima asked the court to dismiss the case and find no judicial determination to hold him on trial for graft. He also asked the court to defer the issuance of an arrest warrant against him.
Purisima was formally charged last May 6 in the Office of the Special Prosecutor accusing the friend of President Benigno Aquino III of graft for acting with manifest partiality, evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence when he awarded the courier contract to the firm WerFast Documentary Agency, Inc.
The prosecution said Purisima violated Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when he gave unwarranted benefit to Werfast.
Purisima entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Werfast and accredited the firm as the PNP’s courier service provider for all firearms license applications despite its failure to comply with government regulations on courier services.
Purisima and the respondents also approved the delivery by courier of firearms license as a mandatory policy in the PNP.
The prosecution said Werfast failed to seek prior registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission and failed to get authority from the Department of Transportation and Communications to operate a delivery service as well as an accreditation from the Department of Science and Technology.
Also facing graft for conspiring with Purisima are dismissed Police Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta, a former official of Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) and Central Luzon police director, retired Police Director Gil Meneses, and dismissed FEO officials Chief Supt. Napoleon Estilles, Senior Supt. Allan Parreño, Senior Supt. Eduardo Acierto, Senior Supt. Melchor Reyes, Supt. Lenbell Fabia, Chief Inspector Sonia Calixto, Chief Inspector Nelson Bautista, Chief Inspector Ricardo Zapata Jr., and Senior Inspector Ford Tuazon.
Also ordered charged are the Werfast incorporators, such as Mario Juan, Salud Bautista, Enrique Valerio, Lorna Perena and Juliana Pasia.
Petrasanta had been eyed as the next police chief but the post later went to now Director General Ricardo Marquez.
In his motion, Purisima through his lawyers said he did not give undue preference to Werfast when he approved the MOA in Feb. 2013 because when he assumed the PNP chief post, the police already had a MOA with Werfast as early as 2011, when Nicanor Bartolome was director general.
The 2011 MOA already in effect permitted Werfast to provide a courier service system for the renewal of the firearms licenses.
“(This) clearly show that when Purisima approved the … memorandum on Feb. 17, 2013, Werfast had already been permitted to provide courier services for the PNP… As such, Purisima cannot be accused of ‘giving’ any benefit, advantage of preference to Werfast…” his motion said.
Purisima also accused Meneses of misleading him when the latter submitted the memorandum recommending the courier service system for gun licenses as mandatory while falsely claiming that Werfast was already accredited.
Purisima said when he approved Meneses’ recommendation, he was just in his second month in office at the top PNP post and, in his mind, “such approval was for a legitimate and noble purpose, and in accordance with an already existing policy of the PNP.”
He said he acted in “good faith” because he was misled by Meneses in approving the memorandum that recommended as a mandatory policy the delivery of firearms license cards to the gun owners’ registered addresses.
“An honest mistake of fact destroys the presumption of criminal intent,” his motion said.
Purisima also denied the Ombudsman’s findings that he used his undue influence and gave threats to push the project.
He said there was no evidence for the Ombudsman to allege in its consolidated resolution that his “influence was felt throughout the transactions,” a “looming presence over all phases of the Werfast deal.”
Purisima said he could not possibly had that much influence because he was only serving two months as PNP chief when he approved the mandatory policy for courier service.
He reiterated that the Ombudsman’s allegation that he used his personal relationships in the transaction was baseless because it was not under his watch that a memorandum was entered with Werfast way back 2011.
“When Purisima took over the reins of the PNP, the transaction with Werfast was already a done deal being actually implemented,” his motion said.
Earlier, the Office of the Ombudsman dismissed Purisima, Petrasanta and the others for the administrative offense of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and grave abuse of authority. The officials were forfeited their retirement benefits and barred from being reemployed in government.
In ordering the graft charges, the Ombudsman said Purisima entered into a courier service contract with Werfast although the latter had no corporate existence and juridical personality when the PNP entered into a MOA in May 2011.
The Ombudsman found that no public bidding was conducted and that the MOA was entered into although Werfast lacked the track record as a courier service company.
Purisima and the officials also admitted that the accreditation documents from Werfast were incomplete and met only the minimum requirements. The respondents also gave absolute credence to the company’s representative that it has a joint venture with CMIT Consultancy Group, Inc. and Philrem Service Corporation.
The Ombudsman’s investigation also showed that WerFast engaged the services of LBC that cost P190 for deliveries within Metro Manila and P290 outside, while the other courier service providers only charge P90 within Manila.
In her order, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said “the document trail—from the execution of the MOA to the issuance of an accreditation policy, subsequent mandatory imposition of courier service fee deliveries, until accreditation of WERFAST—reveals measures undertaken to mask a long line of violations.”
Purisima and the others stand accused of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits public officials from causing any undue injury to any party, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.
Petrasanta already faces a separate graft trial before the Sandiganbayan for the missing AK-47 assault rifles allegedly sold to communist rebels.
The Ombudsman also found probable cause to charge Purisima and sacked Special Action Force (SAF) commander Getulio Napeñas with graft and usurpation of powers for violating the police chain of command in the botched anti-terror raid “Oplan Exodus” that resulted in the deaths of 44 elite cops in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. RAM/rga
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