THE Sandiganbayan on Wednesday ordered the arrest of former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Avelino Razon Jr. and 28 others implicated in the P400-million “ghost repairs” of combat vehicles in 2007.
The Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division issued the warrants against Razon in connection with 12 criminal charges stemming from the anomalous repair of several light armored vehicles (LAV) and fictitious payments for repairs and purchases of police vehicles.
Aside from Razon, warrants were issued against former and incumbent PNP officials, including former comptrollers Geary Barias and Eliseo dela Paz.
In its resolution, the Sandiganbayan affirmed the recommendation of the Office of the Ombudsman to hold the respondents “without bail” on charges of malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents.
Upon learning about the warrants, Razon, Barias and Dela Paz turned themselves in at 3 p.m. yesterday.
Razon told reporters he “surrendered” to the jurisdiction of the Sandigabayan because he believes his name will be cleared.
Also covered by the “no bail” arrest order are former Directors Reynaldo Varilla and Charlemagne Alejandrino; Chief Supt. Teodorido R. Lapuz IV; Sr. Supts. Emmanuel D. Ojeda and Reuel Leverne Labrado; Supts. Warlito Tubon, Henry Duque, Josefina Dumanew, Rainier Espina and Edgar Paatan; Chief Insp. Analee Forro; and SPO4s Victor Puddao and Alfredo Lavina.
The civilians charged in the case were Antonio Retrato, Eulito Fuentes, Alex Barrameda, Patricia Enaje, Ma. Teresa Narcise and Nancy Basallo; newspaperman Artemio Zuniga; and traders Pamela Pensotes, Evangeline Bais, Harold Ong, Tyrone Ong, Gigie Marpa and Marianne Jimenez.
Based on the case filed by the Ombudsman last year, Razon and the other officials had allocated P400 million supposedly for the repair of 28 V-150 LAVs.
Prosecutors said the defendants made up the public bidding and that the Invitation to Bid was published in Alppa Times News, a “non-existent publication outfit.”
The defendants tried to stop the warrants by separately filing motions for judicial determination of probable cause, claiming that the Ombudsman filed the cases without fully considering their arguments and documentary exhibits refuting the allegations.
But the court noted that to prove their claims, the defendants have to undergo a full-blown trial.