MANILA - A government employee on Monday branded as harassment the libel charges filed against her by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, whom she accused of rigging a P1.25-billion contract for 21 refurbished helicopters.
Gazmin filed three counts of libel against whistleblower Rhodora Alvarez, a Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) employee, last Friday.
Alvarez, who had close ties with Thach Nguyen of aircraft supplier Rice Aircraft Services Inc. (RASI), earlier alleged that the contract was ''tailor-fitted'' so that only RASI would meet its specifications.
READ: Supplier of 'antiquated' military choppers was favored: witness
She also claimed Gazmin received seven percent of the alleged 12 percent kickback that Department of Defense (DND) officials received from the deal.
Gazmin's newest move is only aimed at pressuring Alvarez to withdraw her plunder complaints against the Cabinet secretary and other DND officials, her counsel claimed.
READ: Plunder, graft complaints filed vs Gazmin, 38 others
Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) founding chairman Dante Jimenez, who represents Alvarez, said that unidentified men barged into the whistleblower's home last Monday, searching for important documents.
Jimenez alleged that Alvarez has failed to receive her salary from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). This, he said, was part of the government's effort to harass Alvarez.
He also questioned why the investigation into the alleged chopper deal scam was left hanging by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Senator Teofisto Guingona III.
Jimenez represents Alvarez because she is not allowed to give statements to the media as a beneficiary of the Witness Protection Program (WPP).
Gazmin and other accused officials had been cleared by the DND from any supposed violation of the Government Procurement Act. -- Report from Junry Hidalgo, dzMM