MANILA - The Office of the Ombudsman ordered Tuesday the preventive suspension of 25 high-ranking officers of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) over the allegedly anomalous utilization of funds totaling P67.5 million.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the six-month suspension of:
- Vice-Admiral Rodolfo Isorena
- Rear Admiral William Melad
- Rear Admiral Cecil Chen
- Commodores Enrico Efren Evangelista, Jr. and Aaron Reconquista;
- Commanders John Esplana, William Arquero, Jude Thaddeus Besinga, Roben De Guzman, Angel Lobaton IV, Ferdinand Panganiban, Joselito Quintas, Ivan Roldan, Rommel Supangan, George Ursabia, Jr., Ferdinand Velasco, Wilfred Burgos and Allen Dalangin;
- Captains Joeven Fabul, Angelito Gil, Ramon Lopez, Christopher Villacorte;
- Liutenants Junior Grade Mark Franklin Lim II and Mark Larsen Mariano; and
- Accounting Head Rogelio Caguioa.
The respondents are facing charges for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service for irregularities in cash advances worth P67,533,289.73.
According to Morales, the funds were used to "purchase office supplies and information technology equipment without complying with procurement regulations."
"Spurious liquidation documents were also presented indicating respondents’ fraud and misrepresentation. The Ombudsman also took note of the 15 April 2015 Audit Observation Memorandum issued by the Commission on Audit," the Ombudsman said.
Morales added that the respondents’ respective positions allow them to wield influence on possible witnesses and to access public records.
"Their continued stay in office may not only prejudice the cases against them but also allow them to commit further acts of malfeasance,” she argued.
The Ombudsman has directed Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to implement the preventive suspension order.
Under the Ombudsman Act, a preventive suspension may be issued pending an investigation if the evidence of guilt is strong, and the case involves dishonesty, oppression or grave misconduct or neglect in the performance of duty.