Lacson Pushes Probe on P2.32-M Video Equipment Purchase

Not wanting irregularities to hound his own backyard, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson pushed for a full investigation into alleged overpricing in the P2.32-million purchase of video equipment for the Senate’s Public Relations and Information Bureau. 

Lacson, who chairs the Senate accounts committee, said initial price comparisons showed the Senate may have paid more than double for the video equipment, which included cameras and accessories.

“In view of the foregoing may I respectfully request that an investigation on the matter be conducted by the proper Senate authorities in order to determine whether there is collusion between the supplier and that of the end-user resulting in this overprice, which may have prejudiced this institution, and if so, to file the necessary charges against the responsible officer or officers of the Senate,” he said in a letter to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

He said he learned of the alleged irregularity from concerned Senate employees.

The transaction involved two sales invoices of Jhebtronic Trading Sales dated October 6, for P2,320,000. The invoices bore the signature of a certain Joe Andrew Garcia indicating the items were received “in good condition.”

Among the items in the invoices were three Sony DSR-PD170 Camcorder (video camera recorders) worth P395,000 each, and three Sony NP-F970 InfoLithium L-series batteries worth P15,000 each.

But Lacson pointed out that another dealer, Henry’s Camera and Photo Supply, sold the same model camcorder for only P175,000 each, and the L-series batteries for only P9,800 each.

A price comparison showed the same-model Sony camcorder cost $3,995 (P186,147) on Amazon.com; $2,569 (P119,702) on Power Seller NYC; and $2,599 (P121,100) at Dealcost.com and Fumfie.com. The battery pack cost only $105 (P4,892) on online shops.

On the other hand, Lacson said a comparison by his staff of the other items bought by the PRIB from Jhebtronic with prices offered by dealers on the Internet showed:

* Three Manfrotto 351MVCF carbon fiber lightweight video tripod kits, P140,000 per unit on Jhebtronic and $1,790 (P83,405) each on the Internet;

* Three Sony HVL-LBP LED light system units worth P80,000 each on Jhebtronic and $519.95 (P24,227) on the Internet;

* Two data video RMC-140 tally box/light indicators worth P70,000 each from Jhebtronic and worth only $479 (P22,319) each on the Internet;

* Two Benpro MP-98m8 5-section aluminum monopods worth P20,000 each on Jhebtronic and worth only $83 (P3,867) on the Internet;

* Three Kata CC-197 HDV camera bags worth P21,000 each at Jhebtronic and only $239.99 (P11,182) on the Internet; and

* Two Sony ECM-673 Shotgun/Boom microphones worth P45,000 each at Jhebtronic and only $219.952 (P10,248) each on the Internet.

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