THE Supreme Court has upheld the dismissal of a former police director and several others over a P400-million “ghost” repair contract for combat vehicles.
The high tribunal set aside a decision dated February 27, 2014 and a resolution dated July 15, 2014 of the Court of Appeals, and entered a new one finding ex-police director Rainier 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 (PNP) chief Avelino Razon was also implicated, as well as former and incumbent PNP officials and former comptrollers Geary Barias and Eliseo de la Paz.
Based on the case filed by the Ombudsman, Razon and other officials, including Espina, 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.”
The Ombudsman indicted Espina and several other PNP officers in 2012 for violating Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act, 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 found that Espina made indispensable acts that led to the completion of the illegal transactions.
The Ombudsman found it incredible that the repair and refurbishment of the LAVs were completed in only seven days – December 20 to 27, 2007 – considering the magnitude of the work involved that included the delivery of the LAVs for repair and the inspection and acceptance of materials to be used.
But the appeals court found Espina administratively liable only for simple misconduct, prompting the Ombudsman to go to the high court.