Appeals court defers ruling on PNP chief’s TRO petition
The Court of Appeals on Wednesday deferred judgment on an appeal by Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Alan Purisima to stop the Ombudsman from ordering his suspension.
The Court’s Special 10th Division said it will wait for Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to comment on Purisima’s petition before issuing a ruling.
Carpio ordered the national police head suspended for six months last December 4 on a complaint that he committed grave abuse of discretion in approving a contract for a courier service to deliver the firearms license of gun owners.
Purisima petitioned the Court of Appeals to stop the Ombudsman from carrying out the order.
The court’s division, headed by Justice Jane Lantion, with Justices Florito Macalino and Lina Valenzuela as members, gave the Ombudsman 10 days to submit its comment.
The suspension order also covered Police Directors Gil C. Meneses and Napoleon Estilles, Supts. Raul D. Petrasanta, Allan A. Parreno, Eduardo P. Acierto, Melchor V. Reyes, Lenbell J. Fabia and Sonio C. Calixto, Inspectors, Nelson L. Bautista, Ford G. Tuazon, and Ricardo S. Zapata.
The Ombudsman had directed the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to serve the order to Purisima.
In his petition, Purisima said the Ombudsman based the preventive suspension on “assumptions, conjectures and suppositions that have no merit whatsoever.”
The complaint was filed by Glenn Gerard C. Ricafranca in connection with the PNP’s contract in 2011 with the courier, Werfast Documentary Agency.
Purisima said the memorandum for the contract was approved by Meneses, who was at that time the PNP’s Civil Security Group head, and that his action was ministerial and “does not constitute gross negligence and/or gross neglect of duty.”
He said that “by whatever stretch of the imagination, that is hardly evidence of petitioner’s alleged gross negligence and/or gross neglect of duty, which connotes a breach of duty that is flagrant and palpable. No such breach of duty exists on the part of petitioner.”
Purisima said the Ombudsman’s order for DILG Secretary Mar Roxas to implement the suspension “is patently illegal considering that it violated Republic Act No. 6975, known as the Department of Interior and Local Government Act of 1990 as amended by RA 8551, the PNP Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998.
Purisima argued that the PNP “is not under the administrative supervision and control of the DILG but of the National Police Commission, which is a collegial body wherein the DILG secretary is merely an ex-officio chair.”
In an interview on DZMM radio on Wednesday, Roxas said the suspension order is already in effect.
He described Purisima’s attempt to seek a restraining order from the Court of Appeals as a “delaying” tactic.
“It’s a strategy of the lawyers,” Roxas said.
He said the PNP’s chain of command will be followed in choosing Purisima’s replacement.
Next in line as PNP chief is Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, the deputy chief for administration.
There have been rumors that Roxas never favored Purisima, who is a known close friend of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, as national police chief,
The PNP chief also faces charges before the Ombudsman over his supposed mansion in his hometown in Nueva Ecija and the construction of the official residence of the PNP chief in Camp Crame.
In Malacañang, Deputy Presidential Spokesman Abigail Valte said the President will not intervene in the case of Purisima.
“You have to understand that there is already a case with the Ombudsman, and as such, the President will not intervene owing to the fact that the Office of the Ombudsman is a separate entity from the Executive,” Valte said.
Sen. Grace Poe on Wednesday said she was dismayed that Purisima challenged the suspension order.
“There is a purpose higher than yourself always, especially when you’re leading an agency,” said Poe, who chairs of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.
House Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmenares and House Good Government and Accountability Chairman Vice Chairman Elpidio Barzaga said the suspension order has doomed Purisima.
“Both the Napolcom and the DILG are under the DILG Secretary.
Purisima’s argument has no legal basis at all. He should resign. His suspension is already a very telling blow to his credibility. He can’t function well even after this [suspension],” Colmenares told reporters.
Barzaga said Purisima will not gain anything by delaying the inevitable.
“It is only a matter of procedure and time. In the absence of any TRO (Temporary Restraining Order), expect that the Ombudsman’s order to be implemented,” Barzaga said.
With Anthony Vargas, JOEL M. SY EGCO, Jefferson Antiporda and Llanesca T. Panti