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Sandiganbayan orders arrest of former PNP Chief Verzosa

The Sandiganbayan Third Division ordered the arrest of former PNP Chief Jesus Verzosa and seven top former police officers as the anti-graft court denied their respective motions for judicial determination of probable cause in connection with the alleged anomalous acquisition of 75 rubber boats in 2009 worth P131.5 million.

The warrant of arrest was signed by Associate Justice Alex Quiroz, and 3rd Division Chairman Jose Hernandez, and Justice Samuel Martirez.

Also ordered arrested for graft charges were former PNP Deputy Dir. Gen. and now Tuguegarao City Mayor Jefferson Soriano, former Dir. Luizo Ticman, former Dir. Ronald Roderos, former Dir. Romeo Hilomen, former  Chief Supt. Herold Ubalde, former DDG Benjamin Belarmino, Jr., and former Chief Supt. Villamor Bumanglag.

This is the second warrant of arrest issued by the court against Verzosa and Soriano, who were also both implicated and charged in the anomalous purchase of two overpriced second hand choppers. Both also posted bail in the same case.

Mayor Soriano showed up at the Sandiganbayan before noon yesterday and posted a P30,000 bail bond for his provisioal liberty.

But Roderos was arrested yesterday morning by Sandiganbayan Sheriff personnel while he was attending the hearing of his graft case on chopper scam right inside the court room at the fifth floor of Sandiganbayan.

Roderos was surprised when Sandiganbayan sheriff personnel arrested him inside the court room. He refused to be interviewed by repoters. Later, his female lawyer arrived and assisted him in posting bailbond of P30,000.

The anti-graft court issued the warrant against the seven former eight police officials after denying their motions for determination of probable cause, which took several months before the court decided on it.

The Office of the Ombudsman that filed the case said that based on the findings of graft investigators, the PNP negotiated the procurement of 75 rubber boats and 18 spare engines or outboard motors intended for the PNP Maritime Group under the 2008 Annual Procurement Plan.

Upon delivery however, the PNP Maritime Group’s Technical Inspection Committee on Watercrafts found deficiencies in the equipment and declared them unsafe to use as the boats and engines were incompatible and not functional.

But Verzosa in his motion insisted that the Ombudsman committed a grave abuse of discretion when it indicted him for graft as he insisted that his actions enjoyed presumption of regularity as even the Supreme Court has affirmed that heads of government offices “have to rely to a reasonable extent on their subordinates and on the good faith of those who prepare bids, purchase supplies, or enter into negotiations.”