11 Dismissed In Helicopter Case

MANILA, Philippines --- Two police generals and nine other members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were ordered dismissed from the service for the anomalous purchase of the three helicopters in 2009.

One of those who were removed from the PNP roster, Chief Supt. Herold Ubalde, is the classmate of PNP Director General Nicanor Bartolome at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

"We have to implement what was written in the resolution of the Ombudsman, if that is the decision then we should just have to implement it," said Bartolome.

Also ordered dismissed were Chief Supt. Luis Saligumba, head of the Police National Training Institute (PNTI); Senior Superintendents Job Nolan Antonio, Mansue Lukban, Edgar Paatan; Supts. Roman Loreto and Ermilando Villafuerte; Chief Insp. Joefina Recometa; SPO4 Ma. Linda Padojinog; Avensuel Dy; and PNP non-uniformed employee Ruben Gongona.

Chief Superintendent is a one-star rank equivalent to brigadier general in the military, while senior superintendents and superintendents are equivalent to colonel and lieutenant colonel, respectively.

The dismissal order, according to Bartolome, took effect on June 15.

"Aside from the dismissal, all of them were also meted with accessory penalties of forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification to hold public office," said Bartolome.

The PNP leadership carried out the penalty based on the resolution passed by the Ombudsman on May 30 and approved on June 1.

The case stemmed from the purchase of three Robinson Raven 44 helicopters for R150 million. Investigation revealed that two of them were second-hand but were passed off as brand new.

Early this month, the Office of the Ombudsman filed a graft case, from the original plunder recommended by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) against all the policemen involved and former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, allegedly the real owner of the second-hand helicopters.

Senior Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr., PNP spokesman, said the same order approved by Bartolome imposes a six-month suspension each on three policemen and three PNP civilian employees.

They were identified as Senior Supt. Joel Crisostomo Garcia, SPO3 Jorge Gabiana, PO3 Dionisio Jimenez, and civilian employees Emilia Aliling, Edwin Chavarria and Edwin Maranan.

Cerbo said two retired police generals and a retired colonel were also held liable, although they have retired.

Police Director Leocadio Santiago retired on March 16; Police Director George Piano, on April 18 and Supt. Claudio Gaspar, Jr., on February 2.

Police Director is a two-star rank equivalent to major general.

"They were penalized with a fine equivalent to one year salary deducted from payment of accumulative leave credits," said Cerbo.

"They were also punished with accessory penalty of forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification to hold public office," he said.

All the officers ordered dismissed are expected to file an appeal.