Helicopter deal: Sandigan junks graft rap vs Mike Arroyo

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star
Helicopter deal: Sandigan junks graft rap vs Mike Arroyo
This photo taken Nov. 12, 2018 shows former first gentleman Mike Arroyo, husband of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, attending a Sandiganbayan hearing on the graft case filed against him in connection with the alleged sale of overpriced helicopters to the PNP in 2009.
The STAR / Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — Former first gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo is now free of legal battle before the Sandiganbayan following the dismissal of a graft complaint filed against him over the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s purchase of allegedly overpriced helicopters in 2009.

In a three-page resolution promulgated on Sept. 21 but made public only yesterday, the anti-graft court’s Seventh Division granted Arroyo’s motion to dismiss the case for violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The Sandiganbayan cited in its resolution the Supreme Court (SC)’s Dec. 1, 2021 decision granting Arroyo’s appeal to be dropped as co-respondent in the case.

The Seventh Division previously denied Arroyo’s motion to quash the case, prompting him to challenge the ruling before the SC.

On Jan. 27, 2020, the high court denied Arroyo’s petition for certiorari. But in a resolution promulgated on Dec. 1, 2021, the SC granted his motion for reconsideration and ordered the Sandiganbayan to drop him from the case regardless of the stage of the proceedings.

The Seventh Division noted that the high tribunal’s Dec. 1, 2021 ruling has become “final and executory.”

The Sandiganbayan also ordered the release of the bail bond that Arroyo posted for his provisional liberty.

The court likewise recalled the hold departure order issued against Arroyo, which prevented him from leaving the country without the court’s permission.

The proceedings of the graft cases filed against 11 former PNP officers will continue.

In a separate resolution issued on Sept. 28, the Seventh Division denied the motion filed by former PNP property inspector Avensuel Dy seeking to dismiss the complaint.

The other respondents were former PNP chief Jesus Verzosa and nine other former police officers: Romeo Hilomen, Roman Loreto, Claudio Gaspar Jr., Ronald Roderos, Ruben Gongona, Ma. Linda Padojinog, Leocadio Salva Santiago Jr., Ermilando Villafuerte and Job Nolan Antonio.

Filed by the ombudsman in 2012, the cases stemmed from the PNP’s purchase of three helicopters from Manila Aerospace Products Trading Corp. in 2009.

The acquisition includes two standard Robinson R44 Raven I light police operational helicopters worth P62,672,086.90 and a Robinson R44 Raven II LPOH amounting to P42,312,913.10.

The ombudsman said a resolution issued by the National Police Commission in 2008 prescribed that the helicopters to be purchased by the PNP should be brand new.

Ombudsman probers said only the Robinson R44 Raven II was brand new. The two other helicopters were pre-owned by Arroyo, thus there was an overpayment of around P34 million.

Arroyo had argued that the ombudsman’s prosecution team failed to prove his ownership of the helicopters as the transactions were traced to Asian Spirit LTA Inc.

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