THE Supreme Court (SC) Third Division has reversed a Court of Appeals (CA) decision that reinstated a police official allegedly involved in the anomalous purchase of P131.5 million worth of defective rubber boats in 2009.

In a decision dated February 22, the SC granted the petition filed by the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Military and other Law Enforcement Officers, seeking for the dismissal of the appellate court's decision dated December 23, 2014 and a March 21, 2016 resolution that reversed the Ombudsman's ruling dated January 9, 2013, finding Police Senior Superintendent Luis Saligumba guilty of simple neglect of duty.

"Wherefore, the petition is granted. The assailed decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R SP No. 130930 are reversed and set aside. The decision of the Ombudsman dated January 9, 2013 are hereby reinstated," the majority decision penned by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. read.

The SC, in its decision, said that it disagreed with the CA's decision clearing Saligumba and held that an examination of the records shows that the Ombudsman correctly held him guilty of simple neglect of duty.

The case against Saligumba was in connection to the procurement of Philippine National Police (PNP) of 75 rubber boats and 18 spare engines or outbound motors for the PNP Maritime Group under the Capability Enhancement Program Funds.

The purchase was made following the devastation brought by Tropical Storm "Ondoy" and typhoon "Pepeng" in 2008.

The SC stressed that under the PNP Procurement Manual, the Inspection and Acceptance Committee (IAC) is tasked to: inspect deliveries, accept or reject deliveries, and render inspection and acceptance report to the head of the procuring agency.

"In this case, respondent evidently neglected to efficiently and effectively discharge his functions and responsibilities. In his counter-affidavit he even admitted that he did not personally inspect the deliveries since a group of experts and selected personnel knowledgeable of rubber boats had conducted the inspection for him," the SC said.

The anomalies pertaining to the rubber boats were discovered by the late Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo.

Robredo's statements to reporters pertaining to the rubber boats led to the findings that the motors were overpriced at P500,000 per 60-horse power motor, instead of the market price of P350,000.

The Ombudsman in its January 9, 2013 decision dismissed two police officials, namely Police Chief Superintendent Herold Ubalde and Deputy Director General Benjamin Belarmino Jr. for gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct. The office also dismissed nine others, including Saligumba, for simple neglect of duty over the anomalous procurement of defective rubber boats. (SunStar Philippines)