Purisima nabbed for graft
This time around, the police chief who used to arrest criminals was himself arrested by former subordinates at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) shortly after he flew in from Butuan City on Friday.
Sacked Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima was ordered arrested by the Sandiganbayan after the Office of the Ombudsman filed a graft case against him and 10 others over an irregular, P100-million contract for the delivery of gun licenses in 2011.
Purisima, who was not cuffed, was immediately taken by Criminal Investigation and Detection Group agents to the antigraft tribunal in Quezon City where he posted P30,000 bail.
“He was submissive. After he was shown the warrant, sir Purisima just went willingly with those serving it. There was no commotion,” said Chief Insp. Samuel Hojilla, spokesperson for the PNP Aviation Security Group, which served as “backup” in the arrest.
A TV news video showed Purisima walking toward several uniformed policemen right outside the Naia Terminal 3 building, with one of them saluting the former PNP chief. The group then shook hands with their former boss and escorted him to a white vehicle waiting nearby.
Purisima’s lawyer, Dexter Corpus, maintained that his client was not arrested but “voluntarily surrendered.”
On Thursday, the court issued an arrest warrant for Purisima and 10 others, among them businesswoman Salud Bautista, after it found probable cause to proceed with their trial for the PNP’s questionable grant of a P100-million courier service contract to Werfast Documentation Agency Inc. in May 2011, for the delivery of gun licenses to applicants.
Based on information about the case, the contract was awarded to Werfast without public bidding and despite the company’s lack of track record and qualifications as a courier service firm.
Bautista, an incorporator of Werfast, is also the registered owner of Philippine Remittance Co. (PhilRem), which was tagged in the laundering in the Philippines of $81 million stolen by hackers from the Bangladesh central bank’s account in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The court junked the separate motions for judicial determination of probable cause filed by Purisima, Bautista and Werfast owner Mario Juan, clearing the way for the issuance of the arrest warrant.
Besides Purisima, Bautista and Juan, also ordered arrested were retired Civil Security Group chief Gil Meneses, former Firearms and Explosives Office chief Napoleon Estilles, former Chief Supt. Allan Parreño, Senior Supt. Melchor Reyes and Senior Insp. Ford Tuazon.
Also named in the arrest warrant were Werfast incorporators Enrique Valerio, Lorna Perena and Juliana Pasia.
The court ruled that “sufficient grounds exist for the finding of a probable cause and for the issuance of a warrant of arrest against all the accused charged.”
It said that the arguments presented by the accused in their petitions were “matters of defense… best raised and threshed out during trial.”
Mobbed by reporters on his way to post bail, a grinning Purisima remained mum and refused to answer questions. Looking relaxed in a gray collared striped T-shirt and shorts, he quickly left the court building after completing the booking process.
In a statement, however, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) raised questions about what it described as “uneven standards in law and law enforcement” shown by Purisima’s arrest.
“Is this for show? He should have been cuffed,” NUPL secretary general Edre Olalia said. “He knew he could simply post bail. The dramatic ‘arrest’ seems contrived. Why escort him to Sandigan? He should be thrown into jail straight away first. That’s what the rules say,” the lawyer added.
Purisima was appointed 18th PNP chief in 2012 by President Aquino, whose family the former police chief secured during several coup attempts against the late President Cory Aquino.
The former PNP official resigned in February last year following allegations that, despite being under suspension, he gave orders during a police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province, that led to the death of 44 Special Action Force troopers, 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front members, five Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and three civilians in January 2015.
Purisima’s resignation ended decades of service in law enforcement that was marred by allegations of plunder for which he was put on preventive suspension in December 2014.
In June last year, the Ombudsman dismissed Purisima from service for the same graft allegations involving the Werfast contract. TVJ
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