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Robredo sues police officials in purchase scam

Choppers, boats worth millions among questionable purchases
Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo
Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo

MANILA, Philippines (July 12, 2011) - At least four police officials are now being sued for their involvement in questionable multi-million peso procurement of choppers, rubber boats and one patrol boat during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo announced today that he has ordered the filing of charges against Director George Piano, Senior Superintendent Loi Saligumba, Senior Superintendent Nolan Antonia and Superintendent Edgar Bataan - all of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Piano was the head of the PNP Acceptance Inspection Committee; the three others were committee members. The committee's involvement in the procurement of the helicopters, the rubber boats and the patrol boat is undeniable, said Robredo.

Robredo said there is more to PNP’s procurement of overpriced helicopters in 2009. He said that the PNP has also discovered questionable purchases of rubber boats and a patrol boat.

The PNP bought the rubber boats at a cost of P131 million and the patrol boat patrol P90 million.

He said that the patrol boat and the rubber boats, which were bought without bidding after the devastating storm “Ondoy” in 2009, did not comply with the right specifications and remain unclaimed by its target user, the PNP-Maritime Group.

Robredo clarified that the PNP had been investigating the dubious purchase of the helicopters even before Sen. Panfilo Lacson made it public.

Lacson had pressed for the investigation of the police procurement of P105-million worth of supposed brand new light helicopters - one Robinson R44 Raven II and two Robinson R44 Raven I helicopters - that turned out to be second-hand aircraft.

The senator said the procurement was planned on May 8, 2009 and the purchase contract was awarded in July 9, 2009.

He said that then PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa approved the supply contract worth P104.985 million.

Robredo said that instead of conducting fact-finding investigations first, he asked PNP chief Raul Bacalzo to immediately file cases against the police officials.

“It would be better to file charges [against them] first so [make sure] that they will explain,” the Interior chief said in a press conference.

When asked if PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa might be involved, Robredo replied, “I think so because this all leads [to Verzosa]. He signed all papers for the payments. It doesn’t follow that he erred in this matter, but at least he should explain.”

He said that as PNP chief, he was the approving authority for the purchases. The former PNP chief’s name was also indicated in all the vouchers, he added.

He said that if the new PNP leadership finds Verzosa guilty of the questionable purchases, the police organization should not think twice filing the appropriate case against its former head.

Meanwhile, Robredo said that the supplier of the helicopters, the Manila Aerospace Products Trading Corp. (MAPTRA), should also be charged.

He said it was MAPTRA who made it look like that the helicopters being purchased by the PNP were brand new.

Aside from the investigations on the police purchases, Robredo said that he has also told Bacalzo to overhaul the PNP’s procurement system to avoid future scams.

“I think there should be a massive procurement reform in the PNP,” he said. (From, Vox Bikol)