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Gun deal gets Purisima sacked

Malacañang won’t rescue national police chief

OMBUDSMAN Conchita Carpio Morales yesterday placed under preventive suspension Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima and 10 other officials over allegations that they entered into an anomalous contract for courier services in 2011.

The Ombudsman said probable cause was established to warrant Purisima’s six-month suspension without pay. The order has already been transmitted to the Department of Interior and Local Government for immediate implementation.

PURISIMA
Purisima is also facing two plunder complaints before the same office over allegations of hidden wealth and questionable deals, including the renovation of his official quarters in Camp Crame.

A Palace spokesman said Malacañang would abide by the Ombudsman’s decision.

“We are a government of laws, not of men,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said.

“Under the rules, the suspension order will be conveyed to the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government who is tasked to implement the same,” he added.

Coloma, however, begged off from answering questions on whether President Benigno Aquino III was inclined to replace his handpicked police chief, given the length of the preventive suspension.

He expressed confidence that the work of the PNP will not be derailed even with Purisima out.

He also noted that Purisma may also appeal the ruling of the Ombudsman.

“There are still legal remedies available to General Purisima, including seeking reconsideration,” Coloma said.

In an earlier interview, Aquino personally vouched for the good character of Purisima, whom he had known since 1987 when the PNP chief was still a member of the Presidential Security Group of the late President Corazon Aquino.

“I have not known him to be extravagant or greedy,” the President said.

But an administration ally, Senator Sergio Osmeña III, said Purisima should resign.

“If he wants, he can call it falling on his sword, on behalf of his boss, the President,” said Osmena.

The senator said Purisima should have filed his irrevocable resignation six months ago, when allegations against him began to surface, including reports that he had built a mansion in Nueva Ecija.

“He should have also retired. He has a very, very beautiful house,” Osmena said.

Asked if the President should remove Purisima, Osmeña replied: “The President stands by his friends, which is not good. In many instances, especially when you are in government, standing by your friends, is not a virtue. It is a shortcoming.”

Osmeña said the string of corruption charges against Purisima had demoralized the police.

Senator Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, called on the President to immediately appoint a capable leader to run the PNP during Purisima’s suspension, but would not say if the police chief should be sacked.

Poe’s panel had earlier investigated Purisima’s alleged unexplained wealth.

The PNP said it would seek legal remedies for the suspension of Purisima and his lieutenants.

“The PNP respects the decision of the Ombudsman and we ill exhaust all necessary and available legal remedies to address the issue,” said PNP Spokesman Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor in a briefing.

Mayor said the suspension was not a penalty but a preventive measure to keep a respondent from influencing the investigation.

Also suspended without pay over the courier contract were: Police Director Gil Meneses, former chief of the Civil Security Group; former PNP Firearms Explosive Office personnel Chief Supts. Raul Petrasanta and Napoleon Estilles, Senior Supts. Allan Pareno, Eduardo Acierto, Melchor Reyes, and Lenbell Fabia; Supt. Sonia Calixto, Chief Insps. Nelson Bautista and Ricardo Zapata and Senior Insp. Ford Tuazon.

The Ombudsman said Petrasanta, Pareno, Acierto, Fabia, Calixto, Bautista, Zapata and Tuazon will face another six-month preventive suspension due to an ongoing probe on missing AK-47s.

Asst. Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said Meneses and Estilles are not included in the second suspension order because the Ombudsman noted that they are already retired while Purisima is not among the respondents in the complaint regarding the AK-47s.

The suspension of Purisima and the other PNP officers came after the Ombudsman found that he entered into a contract with Werfast Documentary Agency in 2011 for the delivery of firearms license cards even without proper accreditation.

According to the Fact-Finding Investigation Bureau of the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman, the company was accredited two years after it has signed the contract with the PNP. The accreditation was approved by Meneses, then CSG head and, subsequently approved in 2013 by Purisima, who was appointed PNP chief in 2012.

A concerned citizen filed a complaint last April, accusing Purisima and other PNP officers and Werfast officials of pocketing about P100 million by allegedly overcharging for the delivery of firearms license cards to registered gun owners.

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