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6 PNP officials suspended for 6 months for anomalous travel to Russia

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The Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) on Wednesday re-affirmed the six-month preventive suspension without pay imposed against six officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) for their alleged anomalous offshore travel to Russia in 2008.

In a 13-page order, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez upheld its earlier order placing Special Disbursing Officer Samuel Rodriguez; Finance Service Director Orlando Pestano; Budget Division Director Tomas Rentoy III; Police Supt. Elmel Pelobello; Directorate for Human Resources and Doctrine Development Director German Doria; and Directorate for Operations Director Silverio Alarcio Jr. under a six-month preventive suspension without pay.
The said PNP officials were earlier charged with grave misconduct, dishonesty and "conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service".

The charges arose from their participation in the official mission of the PNP in the 77th Interpol General Assembly held at the St. Petersburg, Russian Federation on Oct. 7-11, 2008.

The respondent PNP officials were disqualified to travel offshore pursuant to Administrative Order No. 103, otherwise known as the "Continued Adoption of the Austerity Measures in the Government" and Executive Order 459, mandating compliance with A.O. 103, and Section 16 (c) of the General Provisions of the 2008 General Appropriations Act, specifically "Travel Ban on Retiring DND and AFP Officials and Employees".

They were also accused of receiving travel allowances in the amounts more than the daily subsistence allowance permitted by the prevailing rules, and falsifying the acknowledgment receipts covering their travel allowances that were charged against the PNP Confidential and Intelligence Funds in the liquidation of their expenses.

The ruling also stated that the PNP officials used regular machine readable passports which constitutes a violation of Republic Act No. 8293, otherwise known as the "Passport Law" in relation to Section 2 (c) of the Department of Foreign Affairs Dept. Order No. 11-97, diverted routes contrary to the submitted and approved itinerary, and took business class plane tickets instead of economy in going to St. Petersburg, Russia.

Pelobello was pinpointed as the one who computed the travel allowances of the delegates without consideration on the limits provided in the UNDP Index on the daily subsistence allowance and the prevailing average exchange rate at the time the request for funding was submitted for approval.

His unwarranted claim of the official/obligatory participation of the respondents' spouse to the Interpol General Assembly despite the fact that the records and assemblage do not call for their involvement was also asserted.

Rodriguez, Rentoy and Pestano disbursed government funds, specifically the total amount P2,192,560 taken from the PNP Confidential and Intelligence Funds, for the travel allowances of the respondents.

Rentoy earlier filed a motion for reconsideration on their preventive suspension for alleged lack of actual and legal basis.

However, the Ombudsman denied the said motion.

In the order, Gutierrez said that there exists no sufficient ground to reverse the order placing the respondent-movant under preventive suspension for a period of six months without pay.

The Ombudsman ordered PNP chief Director General Raul Bacalzo to implement the order within five days from receipt of the same. (PNA)




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