Manila, Philippines – After being held as one of the liable officers for the helicopter controversy on 2012, the Court of Appeals (CA) have cleared former Philippine National Police chief Leocadio Salva Cruz Santiago Jr. from its legal responsibility.
According to the sixth division of the appellate court, the Office of the Ombudsman was wrong in concluding that Santiago was liable for signing PNP’s contract with supplier Hilario de Vera of Manila Aerospace products Trading Corp (MAPTRA).
“Notably, there is also no clear and substantial evidence that petitioner colluded with the top brass of the PNP to allegedly defraud the government. While it is true that in conspiracy, direct proof is not essential, it must, however, be shown that it exist as clearly as the commission of the offense itself,” the appellate court said in a decision penned by Associate Justice Marlene Gonzales-Sison.
It has also been said that since Santiago knows that his only tasks was to ensure that the proposal of the possible seller fits the need of the Special Action Force Air unit, he delivered his memorandum and singed the documents from the Bids and Awards Committee with honest intentions.
Santiago and other PNP officials and personnel were dismissed together with six others also suspended for six months without pay in acquiescence to the Ombudsman’s order saying that the concerned PNP officers participated in the whole procurement process making it impossible for supplier De Vera to mislead them without their cooperation.
Mr. Santiago and 14 other PNP personnel was found guilty of “serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service” in 2012 by the Ombudsman, provoking the former official to appeal his case.
Hanna T. Bartolome
ABCom, Leyte Normal University