GMA used to own PNP chopper

Sold as Brand new

July 6, 2011

By Christina Mendez

Sen. Panfilo Lacson implicated yesterday former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Juan Miguel Arroyo in the anomalous purchase of three helicopters of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in 2009.

The senator said he obtained documents indicating that the Arroyos were the former owners of the helicopters “forcibly” sold and priced as brand-new to the PNP for P105 million.

“The First Couple were so powerful at that time that ramming the used helicopters down the throat of the police was easy and effortless,” Lacson said.

Lacson said the couple and other officials who may be involved can be made liable for plunder.

“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.

Bolstering Lacson’s claims, an independent source told The STAR that one of the choppers had logged 500 flying hours in 2008 alone or a year before the supposed purchase.

“If it was brand new (in 2009) why would its batteries conk out barely a year while the PNP was using it?” the source said.

The PNP source, however, refused to say who were the supposed first owners of the chopper before it was passed off as brand new to the police force. “The matter is still under investigation,” the source said.

The PNP is reportedly trying to negotiate with the supplier to replace the aircraft with brand new ones before Lacson made the anomaly public.

“The PNP was shortchanged, it seems,” the source added, but officials were mum on the alleged hand of the Arroyos in the anomalous purchase.

Sources revealed that the supposed PNP procurement came before a certain group tried to sell a secondhand Bolkow helicopter to the PNP, but the leadership turned it down since it was below procurement standards.

In a statement, Lacson revealed that 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.

“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,” the former police chief added.

Lacson had initiated an investigation into alleged misrepresentations in the P105-million purchase of light operational helicopters by the PNP’s elite Special Action Force (SAF).

Senate Blue Ribbon committee chairman Teofisto Guingona III and Lacson have filed Senate Resolution 518 to take a closer look at the acquisition of the helicopters from Manila Aerospace Products Trading Corp. (MAPTRA).

On July 9, 2009, the PNP Negotiation Committee recommended the awarding of the contract to MAPTRA for one Robinson R44 Raven II and two Robinson R44 Raven I helicopters.

But it was later learned that MAPTRA had been engaged in the business only in June 2009. Also, it was learned the supposedly new choppers were “pre-owned” as far back as March 2004.

On the other hand, Lacson said that while the PNP officials involved in the deal were complicit partners, they are the least to blame in this anomalous transaction.

Lacson is said to be keen on pinning down the Arroyo couple and a former Cabinet member who lorded over the police force during the past administration in the helicopter procurement anomaly.

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