MANILA, Philippines – THE Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the reinstatement of two senior police officials earlier ordered dismissed for their involvement in the alleged anomalous contract of the Philippine National Police (PNP) with courier service firm Werfast Documentation Agency, Incorporated (Werfast).
The CA’s Special Eleventh Division reversed the June 2015 consolidated decision of the Office of the Ombudsman ordering the dismissal of Police Superintendent Lenbell Fabia and Police Chief Inspector Sonia Calixto for grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct, and serious dishonesty in connection with the P100-million courier deal.
Fabia is former assistant chief of the Firearms Licensing Division-Firearms and Explosives Office (FLD-FEO) of the PNP, while Calixto is former chief of Permits and Other Licenses (POL) Section of the FLD. Both had petitioned the court for a review of the Ombudsman’s decision.
The case stemmed from a complaint filed before the Ombudsman accusing then PNP chief Alan Purisima and other police officers of entering into an alleged anomalous contract with Werfast in 2011 for the delivery of firearms license cards.
The Ombudsman’s investigation found that Werfast was incorporated with a capitalization of only P65,000 when the deal was inked.
In 2015, the Ombudsman ordered the police officers’ dismissal from the service, the forfeiture of their retirement benefits, and their perpetual bar from employment in government.
Aside from Purisima, Fabia, and Calixto, the Ombudsman's decision also covered former Police Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta and former FEO officials Chief Superintendent Napoleon Estilles, Senior Superintendent Allan Parreño, Senior Superintendent Eduardo Acierto, Senior Superintendent Melchor Reyes, Chief Inspector Nelson Bautista, Chief Inspector Ricardo Zapata Jr, and Senior Inspector Ford Tuazon.
The CA had earlier affirmed the dismissal of Purisima while clearing and ordering the reinstatement of Petrasanta, Bautista, Zapata, Acierto, and Parreño.
In granting the petition, the CA ruled that there was no conspiracy on the part of the two – and others it previously cleared in the case – to dupe the government by entering into an alleged anomalous contract with Werfast.
The court gave weight to the claim of Fabia and Calixto that their only involvement in the deal was their designation as members of the FEO-Courier Services Accreditation Board (CSAB).
The two told the court that the PNP began transactions with Werfast before they formed part of the FEO-CSAB. They also maintained that the decision to accredit Werfast was in compliance with the PNP’s accreditation policy.
In its13-page decision penned by Associate Justice Pablito Perez, the court said, “In resolving this appeal, this Court however does not seek proof of petitioners’ guilt beyond reasonable doubt, but only substantial evidence or such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind may accept as adequate to support the conclusion that petitioners Fabia and Calixto by their own individual actions had knowingly participated in and made possible the irregular transaction."
“From the foregoing, it is evident that there is no substantial evidence to warrant the Ombudsman’s findings that petitioners Fabia and Calixto, as members of the FEO-CSAB, participated or gained in the alleged conspiracy that based on the records was perpetrated at the highest levels of the police hierarchy,” it added.
The court cited “serious disagreement or opposition” among the parties in the PNP involved in the contract with Werfast.
It said the FEO-CSAB issued an interim accreditation to Werfast valid for one year and subject to review or revocation – as opposed to the 5-year validity under the memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed by Estilles and Werfast – and did not provide for mandatory and exclusive service by Werfast as instructed by Civil Security Group Director Gil Meneses in his memorandum.
“These inconsistencies between the actions of the FEO-CSAB and other involved PNP officials on substantial terms of the accreditation of Werfast do not lead to a conclusion of conspiracy; on the contrary, they indicate serious disagreement or opposition among the parties involved,” the CA said. – Rappler.com