Court bars departure of Purisima as he faces graft
The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division on Monday issued a hold departure order against dismissed police chief Alan Purisima and 16 others as they face graft over an anomalous courier deal in 2011.
In a resolution, the antigraft court issued the order to the Bureau of Immigration to prevent the accused from leaving the country unless they seek permission from the court.
The others who were barred from leaving the country 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.
Werfast incorporators Mario Juan, Salud Bautista, Enrique Valerio, Lorna Perena and Juliana Pasia were also barred from leaving the country as they face the charge.
Salud is the president of Philrem Services Corp., the money remittance firm at the center of the alleged money laundering scheme in February this year, when at least $81 million were allegedly stolen by hackers in the Bangladesh Bank and stashed in the Philippines. Salud faces a money laundering complaint before the Department of Justice.
Purisima, a friend of President Benigno Aquino III, and the others were charged with one count of graft for acting allegedly with manifest partiality, evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence when they 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 the 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.
Earlier, the Ombudsman dismissed Purisima, Petrasanta and the others for the administrative offense of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and grave abuse of authority. The officials forfeited their retirement benefits and were 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.
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 his 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.
Earlier, Purisima filed a motion to quash his graft charge and defer the arrest warrant as he claimed that he did not give undue preference to Werfast in the courier service deal. RAM/rga
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