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Ombudsman’s suspension of Purisima ends today

MANILA, Philippines - The suspension imposed by the Office of the Ombudsman on former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima and other police officials in connection with alleged anomalous gun purchase and missing 1,000 AK-47 firearms ends today.

Purisima, former Central Luzon PNP director Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta, and 10 other police officials are technically back on duty after being suspended on Dec. 4.

PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina said the PNP Senior Officers Placement and Promotions Board (SOPPB) would tackle the case of Petrasanta and other suspended police officials to determine whether they would return to their assignment.

While on suspension, Purisima resigned as PNP chief at the height of the controversy on the killings of the 44 Special Action Force commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25 after SAF chief Director Getulio Napeñas pointed to him as the one in control of the operations.

The SAF mission was to arrest Malaysian bomber Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and terrorist Basit Usman.

With the resignation, Espina said Purisima cannot go back to his office as PNP chief.

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Espina said Purisima and other police officials will be temporarily detailed at the Police Holding and Administrative Unit (PHAU) pending the decision of the SOPPB, which the PNP chief chairs.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales signed the suspension order against the police officials that stemmed from the administrative and criminal complaints from an alleged anomalous PNP delivery service contract in 2011 with Werfast Documentary Agency, a private company.

Along with Petrasanta and Purisima, also ordered suspended are ex-civil security group chief Director Gil Meneses and former officials of the PNP Firearms Explosive Office (PNP-FEO).

Petrasanta will face a six-month preventive suspension for the disappearance of 1,004 AK-47 assault rifles allegedly sold to the New People’s Army (NPA). Petrasanta was chief of the PNP-FEO when the rifles were reported missing.

Sources said Petrasanta is being eyed by President Aquino as the next PNP chief since he is close to the Aquino sisters after having served in the Presidential Security Group during the term of the late former President Corazon Aquino.

Suspension not a penalty

Espina said the suspension is not a penalty against police officials but merely to ensure they will not influence the case and not coerce witnesses.

“There are two main purposes of the preventive suspension. First, is that you will not influence the outcome of a case and second, you cannot intimidate witnesses.”

Under the provision of the preventive suspension, a case against anybody will not unduly be influenced by virtue of the position so they are removed from their position.

Espina said preventive suspension usually comes from a trial body when there is probable cause to proceed with the case, while the administrative relief is more an immediate one while probable cause is determined by a summary hearing officer.

Espina said the SOPPB would convene and make certain recommendations to the National Police Commission chaired by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

He noted  the SOPPB has two committees – Alpha and Bravo – that tackle the administrative positions and operations.

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