Senate starts probe on PNP's 'used' choppers

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 28 2011 12:24 PM | Updated as of Jul 28 2011 08:25 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Thursday began its investigation into the Philippine National Police's (PNP) allegedly anomalous purchase of helicopters for its Special Action Forces (SAF) unit.

The hearing, shown live by radio dzMM, sai Senator Panfilo Lacson grilled Police Director Luizo Ticman, head of the PNP’s negotiation team and Bids and Awards Committee.
 
Lacson wanted to find out why the Manila Aerospace Trading Corporation (MAPTRA) had written in its proposal that 2 of the 3 helicopters purchased by the PNP were under the “service center condition” category instead of brand new.
 
The senator showed several documents that revealed that the manufacture date of the Robinsons R44 Raven 1 helicopters was on March 4, and the PNP bought the choppers on June 15, 2009.
 
The senators were not convinced by the explanation given by Ticman. Lacson urged Ticman to admit to the committee that he was just influenced by several high-ranking officials of the Arroyo government to buy the choppers.
 
Lacson said the serial numbers of the choppers delivered to the PNP did not match those in the proposal.
 
Meanwhile, Senator Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona was able to get an admission from Ticman that he did not read the proposal and just relied on the recommendation of the technical working group and recipients of the helicopters.
 
Guingona urged Ticman to reveal all as he since his group could face a plunder case.
 
However, Ticman stressed that no one influenced him to approve the sale of the helicopters.
 
Meanwhile, one of the pilots of the PNP admitted that the helicopters were not brand new, and that Congressman Mikey Arroyo and his father, former First Gentleman Miguel Arroyo, were his frequent passengers.
 
Radio dzMM's Junry Hidalgo also reported that MAPTRA President and Manager Hilario Rivera was a no-show at the probe on Thursday.
 
In a letter sent to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, Rivera said he is still preparing his affidavit which he will present before the committee.