Ex-PNP official cleared in chopper scam

Posted at 09/01/13 2:13 PM

MANILA - The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the reinstatement of former Philippine National Police special action force (SAF) director Leocadio Santiago Jr. to the service after being cleared in the agency’s allegedly anomalous purchase of second-hand helicopters in 2009 and 2010.

The sixth division of the appellate court said the Office of the Ombudsman was wrong in finding him liable for PNP's contract with supplier Hilario de Vera of Manila Aerospace Products Trading Corp. (MAPTRA).

It said there was no proof of conspiracy on Santiago’s part.

“Notably, there is also no clear and substantial evidence that petitioner colluded with the top brass of the PNP to allegedly defraud the government. While it is true that in conspiracy, direct proof is not essential, it must, however, be shown that it exist as clearly as the commission of the offense itself," the appellate court said in a decision penned by Associate Justice Marlene Gonzales-Sison.

It said Santiago only acted in good faith in signing the documents from the Bids and Awards Committee since it was his task “to ensure that the proposal of the presumptive seller fits the need of the SAF air unit.”

The assailed Ombudsman order also ordered the dismissal of 13 other PNP officials and personnel apart from Santiago: Chief Superintendent Herold Ubalde, Chief Supt. Luis Saligumba, Supt. Ermilando Villafuerte, Supt. Roman Loreto, Senior Supt. Job Nolan Antonio, Director George Piano, Senior Supt. Edgar Paatan, Senior Supt. Mansue Lukban, Chief Inspector Maria Josefina Vidal Recometa, Senior Supt. Claudio Gaspar Jr., Senior Police Officer 3 Ma. Linda A. Padojinog, PO3 Avensuel Dy and Ruben Gongona.

Six others, meanwhile, were also ordered suspended for six months without pay: Senior Supt. Joel Crisostomo Garcia, SPO3 Jorge Gabiana, PO3 Dionisio Jimenez, NUPs Erwin Chavarria, Emilia Aliling, and Erwin Paul Maranan.