Court enters not guilty plea for dismissed PNP exec Petrasanta
Dismissed police Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta, the former Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) head, on Thursday refused to enter a plea on his graft charge over an anomalous courier deal in 2011.
During his scheduled arraignment before the Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division, Petrasanta, a former official of the Firearms and Explosives Office and Central Luzon police director, refused to enter a plea when asked by the court to respond to his graft charge.
Also refusing to enter their pleas were co-accused Eduardo Acierto, Nelson Bautista, and Ricardo Zapata Jr.
The court thus entered a not guilty plea for Petrasanta and the three other accused police officials.
The principal accused, dismissed PNP Director General Alan Purisima, was arraigned in June when he pleaded not guilty of graft.
Purisima was arrested May 20 by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group when he arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 3 from Butuan city after the court issued a warrant of arrest against him.
Purisima, a friend of President Benigno Aquino III, and 16 others were charged on 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.
Also facing charges were Petrasanta, retired Police 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. EAcierto, Supt. Lenbell Fabia, Chief Inspector Sonia Calixto, Chief Inspector Bautista, and Chief Inspector 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 alleged money laundering scheme in February, when $81 million was allegedly stolen by hackers in the Bangladesh Bank and stashed in the Philippines. Salud faces a money laundering complaint before the Department of Justice.
Graft is a criminal offense bailable upon the posting of a P30,000 bail bond for each count.
Earlier, the Ombudsman dismissed Purisima, Petrasanta and the others for the administrative offenses of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and grave abuse of authority. The officials were forfeited of their retirement benefits and barred from being reemployed in government.
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. IDL/rga
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
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.