• CA affirms Coast Guard officials’ suspension

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    Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed a decision of the Office of the Ombudsman finding two Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) officers administratively liable for the sinking of a motor tanker off the coast of Guimaras Island, spilling an unknown but substantial quantity of bunker oil.

    In a decision penned by Associate Justice Leoncia Real-Dimagiba and concurred in by Associate Justices Ramon Garcia and Jhosef Lopez, the CA’s 15th Division found no reversible error in the decision and joint order of the Ombudsman and denied a petition for review of Commodore Ramon Reblora and Lt. Commodore Lazaro Ernesto Valdez Jr. for lack of merit.

    The case stemmed from an incident on August 11, 2006 where motor tanker M/T Solar 1 sank off on the island that imperiled not only the environment but also the lives and livelihood of the people of Guimaras.

    On January 4, 2007 a civil case was filed by the PCG as plaintiff before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 46, for sum of money and specific performance and damages against the shipping and insurance company of the tanker.

    But, according to a complaint of the anti-graft office and one Aamil Ahmed, the case was dismissed by the court on March 6, 2009 for alleged negligence of Reblora and Valdez after they failed to attend the hearings and did not pursue the case.

    The Ombudsman found Reblora and Valdez guilty of conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and imposed a penalty of six months’ suspension from office without pay.

    Their motion for reconsideration was also junked, prompting Reblora and Valdez to seek redress before the appelate court.

    In its September 9, 2016 that was released just recently, the appellate court held that the Ombudsman “was correct when it came up with a finding that the petitioners are [administratively guilty].”

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