Ombudsman orders suspension of Coast Guard chief, 24 officers
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the suspension of Coast Guard commandant Read Adm. William Melad and 24 other high-ranking officers pending investigation into alleged irregularities in the use of P67.53-million funds.
The order arose from the administrative case for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service pending before the Office of the Ombudsman.
In a statement, the Ombudsman said the officers were accused of not following regulations in buying office supplies and information technology equipment using cash advances amounting to P67,533,289.73.
The officers allegedly presented spurious liquidation documents that indicated fraud and misrepresentation. The Ombudsman also took note of an Apr. 15, 2015, audit observation memorandum issued by the Commission on Audit.
Morales directed Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to enforce the suspension order to prevent the officials from using their positions to influence an ongoing probe.
“The respondents’ respective positions allow them to wield influence on possible witnesses and to access public records, [and] their continued stay in office may not only prejudice the cases against them but also allow them to commit further acts of malfeasance,” Morales said.
Also ordered suspended are retired-Vice-Admiral Rodolfo Isorena, Rear Admiral Cecil Chen, Commodores Enrico Efren Evangelista, Jr. and Aaron Reconquista; Commanders John Esplana, William Arquero, Jude Thaddeus Besinga, Roben De Guzman, Angel Lobaton IV, Ferdinand Panganiban, Joselito Quintas, Ivan Roldan, Rommel Supangan, George Ursabia, Jr., Ferdinand Velasco, Wilfred Burgos and Allen Dalangin; Captains Joeven Fabul, Angelito Gil, Ramon Lopez, Christopher Villacorte, Lt. Junior Grade Mark Franklin Lim II, Lt. Mark Larsen Mariano, and Accounting Head Rogelio Caguioa.
Under Section 24 of the Ombudsman Act, public officials may be preventively suspended if the evidence of guilt is strong, or if the charges involve dishonesty, oppression, grave misconduct or neglect.
Officials may also be suspended pending investigation if they face charges that may warrant their removal from public service, or if their continued stay in office may prejudice the cases filed against them. CBB/rga
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