MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the dismissal of administrative charges against over-all Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro in connection with the delay in the resolution of a 15-year-old case involving alleged ghost deliveries of assorted supplies and material to the Philippine Air Force amounting to P89 million.
In a 21-page decision, the First Division of the appellate court affirmed the finding of the Office of the President last year and junked the petition for review filed by assistant special prosecutors Jennifer Agustin-Se and Rohermia Jamsani-Rodriguez of the ombudsman’s office.
The CA held that the complainants failed to present proof that the delay in connection with the case of retired Air Force officers Lt. Gen. Leopoldo Acot, Brig. Gen. Ildefonso Dulinayan, and several other officers was orchestrated by Casimiro and another respondent, deputy special prosecutor of the Office of the Special Prosecutor John Turalba.
“Charges based on mere suspicion and speculation likewise cannot be given credence. Hence, when the complainant relies on mere conjectures and suppositions, and fails to substantiate his allegations, the administrative complaint must be dismissed for lack of merit,” the CA held in the ruling penned by Associate Justice Rodil Zalameda.
Associate Justices Andres Reyes Jr. and Ramon Bato Jr. concurred in this ruling.
In 1996, ombudsman investigators Rainier Almazan and Rudiger Falcis recommended the filing of a criminal case against Acot and Dulinayan for violating Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and malversation of public funds.
In 2010, the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division dismissed the case against Acot and Dulinayan.
In their complaint, Zalameda and Rodriguez, who were assigned to prosecute the case, insisted that Casimiro should be held liable for deliberately delaying the disposition of the preliminary investigation of the charges against Acot and company.
Instead of ordering the filing of appropriate charges against the two Air Force officers based on the April 12, 1996 resolution approved by then Ombudsman Aniano Desierto, the complainants claimed that Casimiro ordered the review of the case in 2005 despite the transmittal of the records to the Ombudsman for Military and Other Law Enforcement offices.
The CA observed that the complaint-affidavit filed by Se and Rodriguez were “general averments” that Casimiro committed and conspired to commit gross misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service.
The CA gave credence to the claim of Casimiro that the delay was due to the layers of preliminary investigation and multiple reviews conducted by the concerned authorities in the Office of the Ombudsman under different leadership, starting from Desierto, to former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo and then former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. — With Michael Punongbayan