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Lacson: Arroyo-owned choppers 'forcibly' sold as brand-new to PNP

Senate investigation slated
A Robinson Raven I helicopter used by the Philippine National Police in its "eye in the sky" sorties.
A Robinson Raven I helicopter used by the Philippine National Police in its "eye in the sky" sorties.

MANILA, Philippines  (July 5, 2011) - Two of the 3 helicopters purchased as brand-new by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in 2009 were allegedly previously owned by the family of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo since 2004 based on documents and flight logs.

Senator Panfilo Lacson made this revelation after he and Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Sen. Teofisto Guingona filed a resolution seeking an inquiry into the overprice and alleged misrepresentations in the P104.985 million purchase by the PNP of one Robinson R44 Raven II and two Robinson R44 Raven I helicopters back in July 2009.

"While it's bad enough that the two units were overpriced and therefore grossly disadvantageous to the government, passing them off as brand-new smacks of brazen deceit and utmost bad faith," said Lacson.

"Initial findings would indicate that the previous and original owners of the pre-owned, yet sold as brand-new light police operational helicopters are the Arroyos," he said.

The supply contract, approved by then PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa, was awarded to Aerospace Products Trading Corp. (MAPTRA), a company that Lacson said started in the business only in June 2009, or one month before the purchase.

Guingona and Lacson said MAPTRA "intentionally misrepresented" the helicopters they were selling as brand new and the PNP accepted the same as true.

Based on his research, Lacson said the two five-year-old choppers were supposed to be priced at US$100,000 (5 million pesos) each but the PNP allegedly bought them at P35 to P37 million each.

“Why would the PNP shell out P35 to P37 million for each of the old helicopters that can be bought only at P5 million,” Lacson asked.

Even if indeed brand-new, Lacson said the choppers were still overpriced because a Robinson helicopter is currently priced at US$348,000 or P16 million each.

Lacson further alleged that the helicopters were forcibly sold to the PNP. "The First Couple were so powerful at that time that ramming the used helicopters down the throat of the police was easy and effortless. And since the proceeds could exceed the P50-million threshold in a series of acts, those liable are candidate for a plunder case under our existing laws," he said.