Pari pa naman! CA upholds dismissal of Coast Guard chaplain over misuse of P3M cash advances

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The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the dismissal of a former commander of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Chaplain Service in connection with the misuse of P3 million in cash advances.

In a recent 14-page decision, the CA 12th Division denied the petition of Commander Jude Thaddeus Besinga questioning the Ombudsman’s November 6, 2017 ruling against him.

The CA agreed Besinga should be held liable for the administrative offenses of serious dishonesty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

The court questioned the failure to hold a competitive bidding in the procurement of office, hardware and information technology supplies, in violation of Section 10 of the Government Procurement Reform Act.

It said Besinga’s resort to emergency purchase was not warranted, especially since he bought supplies which were regular items. Besinga also broadly claimed that holding a bidding would be detrimental to public service without explaining what the emergency was.

The court also said “it could not be guaranteed that no personal preference was given to any of the suppliers” since the addresses of the dealers were not indicated in the canvass form.

The CA likewise questioned Besinga’s resort to the alternative method of “shopping,” because this was done daily. When combined, the number and value of the purchased items actually exceeded the threshold for “shopping,” which meant the transactions were large enough to require public bidding.

Lastly, the CA questioned why Besinga was granted cash advances for relief operations, spiritual services and operational expenses, when his designation was limited to defray miscellaneous expenses only.

The court found it “perplexing” that Besinga did not deny the irregularities and simply blamed the “intrinsically problematic” financial system of the PCG that had long existed.

“To our mind, these excuses are irresponsible and foolish. As a priest and as an accountable officer of the PCG, prudence should have dictated the petitioner to ensure compliance with the rules on competitive bidding,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Ruben Reynaldo Roxas.

“Putting the blame on the ‘intrinsically problematic’ financial system of the PCG all the more bolsters his liability of the charges against him,” it added.

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