PNP Ravens in Hot Air

Senate Probes helicopter procurement

July 5, 2011

By Cecille Suerte Felipe

Sen. Panfilo Lacson urged yesterday the Philippine National Police (PNP) to cooperate in the investigation of police procurement of P105-million worth of supposed brand new light helicopters that turned out to be secondhand aircraft.

“I would like to ask the PNP for its cooperation in connection with the Senate inquiry in the coming days,” said Lacson during his speech at the regular flag raising ceremony of the PNP in Camp Crame in Quezon City.

Lacson and Sen. Teofisto Guingona III pressed for an investigation on the procurement since the supplier of the helicopters, Manila Aerospace Products Trading Corp. (MAPTRA), made it appear – with the knowledge of the PNP – that the choppers delivered were new.

Lacson said the plan was for the purchase of three light helicopters for the PNP-Special Action Force’s Air Unit. The procurement was planned on May 8, 2009 and the deal awarded on July 9, 2009.

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

The PNP purchased one Robinson R44 Raven II and two Robinson R44 Raven I helicopters.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo welcomed the Senate inquiry, saying the rumors about the irregularities in the procurement of the helicopters have been persistent.

Robredo said the National Police Commission (Napolcom) is currently investigating the controversy and the department would cooperate with the Senate probe.

Robredo said the procurement was made by some police officials who have retired from the service and prior to the term of current PNP chief Director General Raul Bacalzo.

“Even if they (police officials) are retired, it doesn’t mean they will not face the consequences,” said Robredo.

Lacson said a brand new helicopter could cost only about P16 million to P17 million. He said two of the three helicopters were not new and no enhancement was made to them, like setting up of infrared.

Lacson said more information would be uncovered during the Senate inquiry.

PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr. said the police force is ready to cooperate in the investigation.

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