THE Court of Appeals (CA) has exonerated two police officers in connection with the anomalous purchase by the Philippine National Police (PNP) of three second-hand helicopters declared as brand-new in 2010.
In a January 28, 2015 decision but was released to the media only recently, the CA’s 10th Division through Associate Justice Elihu Ybañez granted petitions for review separately filed by Police Superintendents Roman Loreto and Ermilando Villafuerte
“[Police Superintendents Loreto and Villafuerte] are exonerated from the administrative charges against them for lack of substantial evidence.”
Associate Justices Isaias Dicdican and Carmelita Manahan concurred with the ruling.
Sometime in 2009, the PNP programmed to purchase three fully-equipped helicopters with an approved budget of P105 million.
The Bids and Awards Committee of the PNP awarded the contract to Maptra for the purchase of Robinson R44 helicopters in February 2010.
Investigation revealed later that the helicopters bought were not brand-new contrary to requirements of the PNP procurement program.
The Ombudsman found the petitioners and several officers of the PNP guilty of serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and ordered their dismissal from the service with forfeiture of all benefits and precluding them from employment in any branch or service of the government including government-owned and -controlled corporations.
Their motions for reconsideration were denied, prompting them to seek redress with the appellate court.
In the ruling, the CA pointed out that the Ombudsman made sweeping conclusions against Loreto and Villafuerte whose silence supposedly amounted to participation in an alleged conspiracy.
“In the present case, no records will show that [the]petitioners took part in the alleged conspiracy. They were not signatories of any document pertaining to the procurement of the three  helicopters,” it said.
The court added that the petitioners were neither part of the team that inspected the procured helicopters nor were they signatories in disbursement vouchers for payment of the helicopters.