Court clears 19 top cops in rubber boat purchase
THE COURT of Appeals has ordered the reinstatement of 19 top Philippine National Police officials tagged in the controversial P4.54-million purchase of rubber boats in 2009 which were used in rescue missions at the height of disastrous floodings across the country, reversing their earlier dismissal by the Office of the Ombudsman.
In a 22-page ruling, the appellate court’s Eleventh Division said the Ombudsman was wrong in holding the officials liable for grave misconduct and dishonesty as the emergency procurement of rubber boats through a negotiated contract was necessary at the time.
“…[T]he finding of administrative liability against herein petitioners is reversed and set aside, and the complaint for grave misconduct and dishonesty are dismissed. All the accessory penalties attached to the dismissal of petitioners are likewise recalled and lifted,” read the ruling penned by Associate Justice Rodil Zalameda.
“Petitioners are ordered reinstated and the salaries and benefits withheld from them are restored,” the court said.
Among the officials cleared of administrative liabilities was long-serving decorated police officer Senior Supt. Asher Dolina, who was instrumental in the dismantling of a terrorist cell ran by Ramzi Yousef, who had plotted to assassinate Pope John Paul II during his visit in Manila in 1995.
As Metro Manila chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Dolina headed the team that arrested Sen. Gregorio Honasan in 2006 for his alleged role in the 2003 Oakwood mutiny.
The PNP officials, then members of the PNP Maritime Group’s Bids and Awards Committee (PNP-MG-BAC), faced an administrative complaint for proceeding with the procurement of the rubber boats without bidding.
The emergency purchase was made to boost the police forces’ fleet of search-and-rescue boats in the wake of Tropical Storm “Ondoy” and Typhoon “Pepeng” which spawned deadly flooding days apart in September 2009.
The court, however, favored the justification of the respondents of the boats’ procurement, overturning the Ombudsman’s ruling against them.
“The twin calamities highlighted the necessity of proper and adequate equipment in search-and-rescue operations. And also, with the high probability of other typhoons entering the country after Ondoy and Pepeng, justify resort to negotiated procurement by the PNP-MG- BAC,” the court said in a May 25 ruling released just recently.
The court noted that there was “a need to hasten the procurement of necessary equipment for search-and-rescue missions.”
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