MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine anti-corruption prosecutor ordered the suspension Thursday of the country's top police officer in connection with a contract with a courier company to deliver gun licenses.
Investigators have found that the courier company was incorporated only after it signed an agreement with the national police in 2011, and had no track record. Philippine National Police chief Allan Purisima approved the agreement last year.
Prosecutor Conchita Carpio Morales issued the order to suspend Purisima and eight other officers for six months without pay. Purisima faces charges of gross negligence for approving the contract despite the failure of the company to meet requirements, according to the ombudsman's office.
The Philippine police force have been rocked by several scandals, including allegations of torture to extract confessions and corruption. Last year, Carpio Morales filed graft charges against nine police officials who were allegedly implicated in carrying a large sum of undeclared money during a 2008 Interpol conference in Russia.
Purisima was on an official trip to Saudi Arabia and is already under public scrutiny because of his ownership of a provincial mansion and other properties.
National police spokesman Wilben Mayor said senior officers had spoken with Purisima by telephone and that the national police chief "respects the ombudsman's decision." He said Purisima intends to clear his name.
The other eight officers, plus three recently retired ones, could face graft and grave misconduct charges.
The courier company, called Werfast, was incorporated with a capitalization of only 65,000 pesos ($14,500), and investigators said it was not accredited to engage in courier services and did not pay taxes from 2011 to 2013.
The ombudsman's office also said the company lacked the capability to deliver tens of thousands of gun licenses nationwide and had to engage the services of another courier company.
Werfast charged 190 pesos ($4.26) for deliveries in metropolitan Manila, compared to 90 pesos ($2) charged by other courier companies, according to investigators. More than 90,000 firearms licenses were issued for delivery from March 2013 to March 2014.