Senate committee report on chopper deal probe out Thursday-A A +A
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
MANILA (Updated 10:26 a.m.) -- The Senate blue ribbon committee will release Thursday a report on its investigation on the second-hand choppers bought as brand new by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in 2009.
Senator Teofisto Guingona III, committee chairman, will release the probe result at the weekly Kapihan sa Senado press forum, according to an advisory from his office.
The advisory said that after the press briefing, Guingona "with other senators will file the appropriate complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman against the people who conspired and took part in the anomalous transaction."
The blue ribbon committee, properly the Senate committee on the accountability of public officers and investigations, held hearings earlier this year on the 2009 purchase of three Robinson Raven helicopters by the PNP.
Witnesses during the hearing said that two of the units had been flying since 2004 but were passed off as brand new.
Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo, husband of Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, had been dragged into the investigation after businessman Archibald Po told senators that Mr. Arroyo owned the helicopters.
Po is the owner of helicopter dealership Lionair Inc.
He said Arroyo-owned Lourdes T. Arroyo Inc. (LTA) had been paying maintenance and hangar fees for the helicopters.
LTA, through Negros Occidental Representative Ignacio Arroyo, repeatedly denied this, saying the helicopters were merely leased.
Jose Miguel Arroyo sued Po for slander and used the lease agreement as proof against the helicopter dealer.
It was also found that the National Police Commission changed its specifications for the project, a move that senators said may have been done to "tailor-fit" the specifications to fit the Robinson Raven helicopters. Members of the PNP inspection team that checked the helicopters also admitted to either not having seen the helicopters personally or of not having the expertise to assess them.
In September, the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group filed plunder complaints against the former President's husband, former Local Government secretary Ronaldo Puno, and former PNP chief Jesus Versoza at the Office of the Ombudsman.
Also included in the complaint were members of the inspection team, former Special Action Force director Leocadio Santiago Jr., whose unit received the helicopters, and other ranking police officials.
Po and Hilario De Vera, president of Manila Aerospace Trading Corp. (Maptra) were also included in the complaint.
Maptra entered into the helicopter deal with the PNP as a distributor for Lionair. (Jonathan de Santos/Sunnex)