THE Supreme Court (SC) has partly granted a petition of the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with charges against former police directors Rainier Espina and several others arising from a P400-million “ghost” repair of combat vehicles.
In its decision, the SC set aside a decision dated February 27, 2014 and a resolution dated July 15, 2014 of the Court of Appeals (CA) and entered a new one finding respondent Espina guilty of gross neglect of duty.
“Accordingly, he is dismissed from government service with all the accessory penalties,” the court said.
The charges stemmed from the anomalous repair of several light armored vehicles (LAVs) and fictitious payments for repairs and purchases of police vehicles.
Aside from Espina, former Philippine National Police chief Avelino Razon was also implicated, including former and incumbent PNP officials and former comptrollers Geary Barias and Eliseo dela Paz, among others.
Based on the case filed by the Ombudsman, Razon and the other officials, including Espina, had allocated P400 million supposedly for the repair of 28 V-150 LAVs.
It was found out that the police officials made up the public bidding and that the invitation to bid was published in Alppa Times News, a “non-existent publication outfit.”
In a joint resolution in 2012, the Ombudsman indicted Espina and several other PNP officers for violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019, Section 65 (b) (4) of RA 9184 and for malversation of public funds through falsification under Article 217 in relation to Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code.
The Ombudsman also found them guilty of grave misconduct and serious dishonesty and, accordingly, recommended their dismissal from government service.
Specifically, the Ombudsman held that Espina executed indispensable acts that led to the completion of the illegal transactions.
It found it incredible that the repair and refurbishment works on the LAV s were completed in only seven days, i.e., from December 20, 2007 to December 27, 2007, considering the magnitude of the work involved, which included the delivery of the LAV s for repair, the inspection and acceptance of materials to be used.
But the CA found Espina administratively liable only for simple misconduct, prompting the Ombudsman to seek redress with the High Court.