MANILA – The Court of Appeals (CA) has cleared a senior official of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) of serious dishonesty and downgraded the charges against seven others who were found liable by the Ombudsman for their alleged part in the acceptance of a non-specified brand of equipment in 2008.

The CA Fifth Division absolved Capt. Lyndon Cendreda of serious dishonesty that would’ve meant dismissal from service.

The Nov. 21 decision likewise modified the Jan. 27, 2019 dismissal order of the Ombudsman and granted the petition to downgrade the charges to less serious dishonesty of Commodore Teotimo Borja Jr., Lt. Junior Grade Wynchester Florentino, Adrian Vargas and Benedicto Bartolome; and officers Rex Villanueva, Mac Roger Lerion and Sheryl R.  Malapit-Cuebas.

They were earlier suspended for six months except, for Lerion and Cuebas who got nine months.

The Ombudsman ordered their dismissal from the service after it was found out that as members of the PCG Inspection Committee, they had knowledge of alleged irregularities in the preparation of inspection and acceptance report in connection with maritime pollution equipment from a private supplier, purchased by the Marine Environmental Protection Command.

Cendreda claimed his signatures, which appeared on the acknowledgment receipt for equipment, sales invoice and delivery receipt, were all forged.

On the other hand, the seven other officers countered that after the inspection was completed, they no longer had control over the items purchased.

The Ombudsman charged them after an investigation showed that the breathing apparatuses for emergency response bore the “Huayan” brand, instead of the specified “Survivair Panther”.

There were also missing socks and chemical boots for hazardous materials suits. (PNA)