P1 billion arms deal anomalous, says solon

By Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Sep 10 2012 11:27 AM | Updated as of Sep 10 2012 08:57 PM

MANILA, Philippines –  A party-list lawmaker on Monday said a bidder in a P1-billion government arms deal may have been favored over other suppliers.

AGHAM Party-list Representative Angelo Palmones is questioning how Trust Trade and partner Glock Asia Pacific Ltd. were able to ship to Manila from the United States 28,000 pistols on September 4 when they were only awarded with the contract last August 31.

The contract was awarded on the same day that the Palace announced the appointment of Mar Roxas as chief of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

"Hindi pa naa-award yung contract, the process of bidding is being undertaken, eh dumarating na, sini-ship na parating ng Pilipinas… Para bang lumalabas doon sa assessment natin is that siguradong-sigurado na sila (Trust Trade) na ang mananalo," Palmones told dzMM.

"Naintindihan natin na malaki ang matitipid ng pamahalaan dito sa deal na ito kaya lang may mga nagre-reklamo kasing mga suppliers, mga bidders na na-circumvent natin ang batas," he added.

Trust Trade, the second lowest bidder, offered to supply 9mm Glock 17-Generation 4 guns at P16,659.76 each or a total of P997,997,045.76.

The lowest bidder, a joint venture between Israeli Military Industries (IMI) and trader Reynaldo Espineli, initially won the open bidding with the lowest offer of P16,254 for each gun or a total of P973,679,616 for 59,904 pieces of 9mm.

However, the Espineli-IMI joint venture was disqualified for documentary deficiencies.

"Yung isa sa mga bidder, may pinakamababang bid ay dinisqualify dahil daw hindi kumpleto ang papeles. Doon mo makikita na kailangan talagang magkaroon ng imbestigasyon para maliwanagan itong issue na ito na vine-ventilate ng mga complainants."

Palmones said the allegedly anomalous deal was brought to the attention of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo who died in a plane crash last August 18.

Rifles, conflict of interest

Palmones made this revelation amid another controversy over a separate firearms deal of the Philippine National Police, which is under the DILG.

A DILG report obtained by ABS-CBN says Puno and several other officials left for Israel on May 10, the same date of the second pre-bid conference for the purchase of assault rifles by the PNP-Special Action Force that involved two procurements of nearly P178 million and P213 million.

The document shows that Puno travelled to Israel upon the invitation of weapons manufacturer IMI.

Puno was accompanied by Espineli, former SAF Chief Leocadio Santiago, and Puno's consultant, Ramiro Lopez III.

It cites a possible conflict of interest since Puno and Lopez were both members of the bids and awards committee.

Espineli and IMI won the bid for assault rifles out of seven bidders.

The report also says specifications of the assault rifles seem to have been amended to favor a particular bidder.

Robredo initially sought a review of the price for the assault rifles.

But while the bidding process was suspended, Robredo still wanted to hold some officials accountable for pushing for the deal.

The DILG document was allegedly the subject of the raid conducted by Puno and his team on August 19 at Robredo's condominium in Quezon City.

President Aquino said he only ordered Puno to seal Robredo's offices after Robredo's plane crashed. However, he sees nothing irregular with Puno's going to the condo because "he probably thought there were papers there to secure as well."