Saturday 17 November, 2018
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SC orders police general reinstated despite finding him liable for P409M vehicle repair scam

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The Supreme Court (SC) has granted the appeal of Police Senior Superintendent Rainier Espina to be reinstated, despite finding him administratively liable over a P409.74-million “ghost” vehicle repair scam in 2007.

In a recent 5-page resolution, the court’s Special 1st Division said Espina’s penalty for gross neglect of duty—normally punishable by dismissal from public office—should be reduced to just a 1-year suspension because it was only his first offense in his 29 years of service.

The SC also considered his “untainted reputation in his career as a police officer” as shown by his awards and commendations.

“While the Court does not condone the wrongdoing of public officers and employees, neither will it negate any move to recognize their length of service in the government,” read the per curiam resolution.

Since Espina had already been placed under preventive suspension while the Ombudsman’s investigation was pending, the SC said this would be credited as his service of the downgraded 1-year penalty.

The SC also did not award back salaries to Espina, since he was not actually exonerated in the administrative case.

Although the author was not named, recently-retired Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, and Associate Justices Mariano del Castillo, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Francis Jardeleza and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa signed the decision.

The SC, in its original March 15, 2017, decision, found Espina to have “failed to exercise due diligence” when he signed the inspection report forms (IRFs) despite the deliveries not having materialized.

It said Espina should not have “blindly relied” on the reports of his subordinates regarding the veracity of the transactions.

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