Purisima pleads not guilty to graft in courier service deal
Dismissed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima on Monday pleaded not guilty to the graft charge against him over an anomalous courier deal in 2011.
Wearing a short-sleeved barong, Purisima underwent arraignment before the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division.
“Not guilty, your honor,” Purisima said when asked by the court of his plea.
Purisima was arrested on May 20 by members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group after he arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 from Butuan City.
The anti-graft court had issued an srrest warrant for him in relation to the allegedly anomalous courier contract with WerFast Documentary Agency, Inc.
Purisima’s lawyer Dexter Corpus claimed that he surrendered to the court.
Purisima, a friend of President Benigno Aquino III, and 16 others were charged with one count of graft for allegedly acting with partiality, bad faith and gross negligence when they awarded the courier contract to WerFast.
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 for all firearms license applications despite its failure to comply with government regulations.
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 charges are dismissed Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta, a former official of Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) and Central Luzon police director, retired Director Gil Meneses, and dismissed FEO officials Chief Supt. Napoleon Estilles, Senior Supt. Allan Parreño, Senior Supt. Melchor Reyes, Senior Inspector Ford Tuazon, Senior Supt. Eduardo Acierto, Supt. Lenbell Fabia, Chief Inspector Sonia Calixto, Chief Inspector Nelson Bautista, and Chief Inspector Ricardo Zapata Jr.
Werfast incorporators Mario Juan, Salud Bautista, Enrique Valerio, Lorna Perena and Juliana Pasia were also indicted.
Salud is the president of Philrem Services Corp., the money remittance firm at the center of the money laundering scheme in February, when $81 million was stolen by hackers from the Bangladesh Bank and wired to the Philippines. Salud faces a money laundering complaint before the Department of Justice.
Among the accused, Meneses, Estilles, Tuazon, Parreño and Reyes also pleaded not guilty.
The others asked for deferment of arraignment due to their pending incidents
Salud and Petrasanta were among those present in court whose arraignment were deferred.
Graft is a bailable offense.
The court set the start of the preliminary conference for the marking of evidence on July and the pre-trial on Oct. 13.
The prosecution set the trial dates on Nov. 28 and 29, Dec. 6 and 7, and Jan. 9, 10 and 11, 2017.
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 were forfeited their retirement benefits and barred from being reemployed in government.
In ordering the graft charges, the Ombudsman said Purisima entered into a contract with Werfast although the latter had no corporate existence and juridical personality. It also lacked a track record as a courier company.
The Ombudsman also found that no public bidding was conducted.
Purisima and the officials have 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 had 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 when other courier service providers charged P90 only within the National Capital Region.
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.”
The respondents are accused of violating Section 3(e) of the anti-graft law, 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 ordered the filing of graft and usurpation of powers charges against Purisima and sacked Special Action Force (SAF) commander Getulio Napeñas 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./rga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.