MANILA — The Court of Appeals (CA) has stopped the order of the Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) suspending an officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP) for his alleged involvement in the anomalous purchases and licensing of 1,004 units of AK-47 firearms last year.
In a resolution dated Jan. 12, 2015 and made public on Monday, the CA’s 10th Division through Associate Justice Isaias Dicdican issued a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) on the preventive suspension imposed by the Ombudsman against Chief Supt. Regino Sy Catiis.
“[Let a TRO] be issued in this case in favor of the petitioner and against the respondents, to be effective for sixty (60) days from notice hereof, directing the respondents to desist from enforcing the suspension order issued on November 26, 2014, subject to the petitioner’s putting up of a bond in the sum of [P100,000] conditioned that petitioner will pay all damages which the respondents may suffer by reason of the TRO if this Court should finally decide that the petitioner is not entitled thereto,” the CA resolution said.
The CA gave the respondents, Ombudsman’s Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices (MOLEO) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, 10 days from notice to file their comment (not a motion to dismiss) on the petition filed by Catiis as well as to show cause why the petitioner’s application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction should not be granted.
Concurring with the resolution were Associate Justices Elihu Ybañez and Carmelita Salandanan-Manahan.
Catiis was assigned on Oct. 12, 2010 as Chief of the Licensing Division of the Firearms and Explosives Division (FED) of the PNP up to Feb. 10, 2012.
He was transferred on Feb. 11, 2012 to the PNP’s Directorate for Controllership up to the present.
Sometime in the middle part of 2014, the anomalous purchases and licensing of AK-47 firearms by Caraga Security Agency, JTC Mineral Mining Corporation, Claver Mineral Mining Corporation and Isla Security Agency were uncovered.
An investigation of the matter was conducted by the Fact-Finding Investigation Bureau (FFIB) of the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the MOLEO.
The FFIB filed on Nov. 12, 2014 a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman-Proper against, among others, Catiis for serious dishonesty and grave misconduct.
The Ombudsman issued an order on Nov. 26, 2014 preventively suspending, among others, the petitioner from office for a period of six months.
This prompted Catiis to seek redress before the CA by way of a petition praying for the issuance of a TRO.
“If the foregoing allegations of the petitioners could be determined to be true and duly substantiated, especially the allegations that the application for gun licenses dated February 24, 2012 was filed weeks after the petitioner was already transferred to the Directorate for Controllership of the PNP and that the two other application forms bear different signature strokes, then it seems that he has a clear legal right that was violated and thus deserves to be urgently protected,” the CA said.
“But such determination has yet to be done by us,” it added.