THE SUPREME Court has affirmed an appellate court decision dismissing a former national police director from service due to his involvement in an anomalous purchase of secondhand helicopters in 2009.
In a 21-page decision dated March 28 and made public on May 20, the High Court’s Third Division said Herold G. Ubalde, then Philippine National Police (PNP) director for legal services, and several others were liable for serious dishonesty over the contract.
“In the present case, this Court is convinced that there is substantial evidence to hold Ubalde administratively liable for his acts relating to the purchase of the helicopters by the PNP,” according to a copy of the ruling written by SC Associate Justice Jhosep Y. Lopez.
“Finally, this Court agrees with the Ombudsman and the CA (Court of Appeals) that Ubalde is also liable for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service because his acts tarnished the image and integrity of (his) public office.”
The CA had affirmed a ruling by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2012, which said that Ubalde’s approval of the irregular purchase of three secondhand helicopters for P105 million showed an “immense debilitating effect on the government service.”
The former police officer argued in his appeal that he had the right to rely on the evaluation of his subordinates during the approval of the purchase of helicopters.
The High Court, however, said “Ubalde cannot escape liability by insisting that he merely relied on the determination of the negotiation committee.”
In April, the Supreme Court granted the appeal of former first gentleman Jose Miguel T. Arroyo to drop a graft charge against him related to the same case.
The court ordered the Sandiganbayan, a special tribunal handling graft and corruption cases, to drop the case information against Mr. Arroyo due to lack of evidence. — John Victor D. Ordoñez