Puno denies changing chopper specs for ex-FG

by Ira Pedrasa, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Aug 22 2011 03:48 PM | Updated as of Aug 23 2011 05:38 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Former Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno on Monday denied that he ordered the National Police Commission (Napolcom) to tailor-fit the specifications of helicopters to be purchased by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to those allegedly owned by former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

Speaking before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee inquiry, Puno said if he had known that the Raven choppers sold to the PNP were second-hand, he would be the first in flagging down the deal.

“If I knew second hand choppers were being sold to PNP, I would never have countenanced that,” he said.

Puno, as then Interior chief, was also chair of the Napolcom. The latter has supervision over the PNP on a collegial basis.

He claimed he was not aware that Arroyo supposedly owns the Raven class choppers, the specs of which were well within the ones that Napolcom approved.

He stressed, however, that Napolcom did not have anything to do with the subsequent bidding process. “What we approved were general specifications.”

Napolcom’s first resolution on the specs revealed that only one company would be able to make it. He said this was revised based on information provided by the PNP to ensure that other players would be able to come in and provide bids.

Asked by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile if he was misled by the PNP, Puno said: “I was not aware I was misled until the expose.”

The senators claimed, however, that instead of “generalizing” the specs, these were made to fit only that of the Raven helicopters.

Senator Panfilo Lacson said the specs on cruise speed and height capability were revised. Of the bidders, only the Raven helicopters fit the standards.

Napolcom’s Conrado Sumanga Jr. denied the claims, however, noting that other players were able to come in after the specs were revised.