Court junks cop’s bid to drop name as Purisima’s graft co-accused
The Sandiganbayan has denied the bid of a police official to drop his name as co-accused in the graft case of dismissed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima.
In its resolution promulgated June 21, the anti-graft court Sixth Division said it found no merit in the motion of Senior Supt. Eduardo Acierto, officer-in-charge deputy director for administration of the Philippine National Police Drug Enforcement Group (PNP-DEG), to drop his name in Purisima’s graft case involving an allegedly anomalous gun courier contract with Werfast.
The court said it agrees with the prosecution that the Court of Appeals’ dismissal of Acierto’s administrative liability, as the respondent said in his motion, does not dismiss the criminal aspect of his case.
“The dismissal of the administrative case against movant will/does not necessarily dismiss the criminal case (from the same incident) against him,” the court said.
The court noted that Acierto’s motion to have his name dropped from the accused, supposedly because his administrative case was dismissed with finality.
The appellate court on February last year reversed the Ombudsman’s penalty of dismissal against Acierto and reinstated the cop to his police force.
He was then appointed to the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG), which was later dissolved following the involvement of its members on the slay of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo.
Acierto said his criminal case should be dismissed with the administrative case.
But the court said the criminal case involves different issues from the administrative case, citing Supreme Court jurisprudence that the dismissal of an administrative case does not bar the filing of a criminal case.
The court noted that Acierto’s move to drop his name as co-accused is similar to a motion to quash, especially because the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure does not provide for the dropping of an accused from the information.
The Sandiganbayan said it is not bound by any decisions of the Court of Appeals, being a co-equal of the appellate court.
“It is appropriate to mention that the rulings of the Court of Appeals including its finding that accused-movant acted in good faith are, at best, only persuasive. The Sandiganbayan, being a co-equal of the Court of Appeals, is not bound by the latter’s findings/decisions,” the court said.
The court added that the graft allegations are evidentiary in character “which should be threshed out in the trial of the case.”
“It must be emphasized, however, that the matter of whether or not the herein movant Acierto is guilty of the offense charged against him is subject to the evidence to be presented by the parties in the trial of this case,” the court said.
The resolution was penned by division chairperson Associate Justice Rodolfo Ponferrada and concurred by Associate Justices Michael Frederick Musngi and Lorifel Pahimna.
Purisima, a friend of former President Benigno Aquino III, and 16 others were charged with 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 allegedly 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, the prosecution said.
In ordering the graft charges, the Ombudsman said Purisima entered into a courier service contract with Werfast although the latter had no corporate existence and juridical personality when the PNP entered into a MOA in May 2011.
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.
Acierto was charged with graft as former chief of the Firearms and Explosives Office’s Firearms and Licensing Division (FEO-FLD).
Besides the Werfast case, the Ombudsman also filed 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 Jan. 2015 anti-terror raid “Oplan Exodus” that resulted in the deaths of 44 elite cops in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. JE
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