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SC affirms dismissal of ex-Marines chief over P36-M allowance anomaly

The Supreme Court (SC) affirmed the dismissal and perpetual disqualification from public office of former Philippine Marine Corps commandant retired Major General Renato Miranda for the anomalous disbursement of P36.7 million in clothing and equipment allowance in 2000.

In a July 10 decision, the Second Division reversed and set aside a 2015 ruling by the Court of Appeals and reinstated a decision by the Office of the Ombudsman finding Miranda guilty of grave conduct and serious dishonesty.

The penalties included the forfeiture of all his benefits except for accrued leave benefits.

The case stemmed from the Ombudsman's finding that Marines did not receive the more than P14,000 in cash allowance for combat clothing and individual equipment (CCIE) that was supposed to have been funded by the P36.7 million that authorities allegedly earmarked and released for the purpose in 2000.

The Ombudsman dismissed Miranda and four other officers from the service in 2009. But in 2014, the appeals court exonerated the retired general based on the supposed lack of evidence that he participated in the alleged conspiracy to defraud the government.

However, when the case was brought to the SC, the tribunal ruled that Miranda's liability stemmed from his entrusting millions in public funds "to an officer who did not have the authority to receive, let alone, disburse the funds."

"[Miranda] cannot explain why he entrusted the CCIE funds to Maj. Jandayan, albeit, the latter did not have the requisite authority to hold and disburse the same for the PMC," the Court explained.

On the other hand, his conviction for serious dishonesty was rooted in "his actions indicating his predisposition to lie for the purpose of defrauding the government in huge amounts of public funds," according to the SC.

The SC was also not persuaded by Miranda's presentation of receipts from clothing and equipment suppliers that supposedly proved the items were delivered to the personnel involved.

"The so called receipts were produced too late in the day; only after respondent and the PMC officials had already been charged with ghost disbursement of funds," the Court said.

"The lie becomes more evident considering that per official records, the intended beneficiaries were supposed to receive cash and not anything in kind like clothing or equipment supplies," it added.

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier, with concurrences by Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, and Jose Reyes Jr. — DVM, GMA News