Plunder, graft complaints filed vs Gazmin, 38 others

Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 16 2016 10:26 PM

MANILA - Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and 38 other individuals are facing complaints of malversation of public funds, plunder, graft, violation of the procurement law and violation of the revised Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Program over the allegedly anomalous procurement of refurbished helicopters.

In a complaint filed by Rhodora Alvarez before the Ombudsman on Wednesday, defense and Army officials are accused of conspiring with Rice Aircraft Services Incorporated (RASI) and Eagle Copters Ltd. by entering into a negotiated agreement through an anomalous bidding process.

Alvarez stated that the Department of National Defense (DND) entered in a negotiated agreement with RASI although the company was just a mere broker and not a legitimate helicopter supplier.

Alvarez added that RASI had been disqualified from the bidding process after failing to comply with the eligibility requirements in the 2012 bidding.

After three failed biddings, Gazmin allegedly resorted to a negotiated procurement with RASI.

Alvarez also said that the 21 UH-1 refurbished helicopters were defective and did not meet the project's specifications.

Gazmin is unfazed. "Mabuti yun para malaman ang katotohanan," he said.

Gazmin and the other DND officials have yet to receive a copy of the complaint, according to Defense spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez.

"Nonetheless, we welcome the development as it provides an opportunity for the secretary and the DND to disprove Rhodora Alvarez's allegations and reiterate the facts we have presented in the Senate hearing," he said.

Meanwhile, Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo, chairman of the DND-Bids and Awards Committee directly involved in the acquisition, declined to give a comment.