THE 5th Division of the Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed a decision of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales finding a police officer along with 12 others administratively liable in connection with questionable purchase of helicopters for the Philippine National Police (PNP).
In a 12-page ruling authored by Associate Justice Noel Tijam, the appellate court dismissed a petition for review sought by Senior Supt. Claudio Delos Santos Gaspar Jr.
In a joint resolution dated May 30, 2012, the Ombudsman found Gaspar and several other police officers guilty of serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
The CA decision also forfeited the policemen’s retirement benefits and perpetually disqualified them from holding public office, provided that if the penalty could no longer be served by reason of resignation or retirement, the alternative penalty of fines equivalent to one -year salary is imposed on the respondents.
Aside from Gaspar, also ordered dismissed from the police service were: Director Leocadio Salva Cruz Santiago Jr., Supt. Ermilando Villafuerte, Supt. Roman E. Loreto, Chief Supt. Herold G. Ubalde, Senior Supt. Job Nolan D. Antonio, Director George Q. Piano Senior Supt. Edgar B. Paatan, Senior Supt. Mansue N. Lukban, Chief Insp. Maria Josefina Vidal Reco, Senior Police Officer 3 Ma. Linda A. Padojinog, PO3 Avensuel G. Dy and Ruben S. Gongona, a non-uniformed personnel of the PNP.
The case stemmed from the PNP’s purchase of three helicopters from the Manila Aerospace Products Trading Corp. (MAPTR).
A fully-equipped Robinson R44 Raven II Light Police Operational Helicopter (LPOH) was acquired for P42.313 million while two standard Robinson R44 Raven I LPOHs were bought for P62.67 million. The transaction was made from 2009 to 2010.
Ombudsman investigators discovered that MAPTRA has no technical and financial eligibility required by law to close the deal with the government.
The Ombudsman also discovered that MAPTRA delivered only one brand-new Robinson Raven II LPOH while the two Robinson Raven I LPOHs were previously owned by Jose Miguel Arroyo, husband of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The anti-graft body ruled that the anomaly could not have been made possible without the participation of the PNP officials and personnel as well as that of Arroyo, Gaspar, and MAPTRA president Hilario de Vera.
On November 5, 2012, the Ombudsman turned down the respondents’ motion for reconsideration, prompting Gaspar to take his case to the CA.
In the its ruling dated March 11, 2015 ruling, the appellate court held that the Ombudsman was right when it found Gaspar administratively liable.
“Petitioner cannot escape the fact that he is liable for the administrative charges when he failed to overturn the substantial evidence presented by public respondent [Field Investigation Office-Ombudsman],” the ruling read.
“There is no dispute the government suffered great damage when it paid for two  supposedly brand-new LPOH that only turned out to be pre-owned.”
“While it can be argued that petitioner [Gaspar] may have been truthful in his assessment of the subject LPOH, it is unfathomable how he could attest that the LPOH are “conforming” to the [specifications in the supply contract or the purchase order,]and at the same time, claim that he has never seen the same,” the ruling said.