Lacson Initiates Probe on P105-M PNP Chopper Purchase

The Senate is set to look into alleged misrepresentations in the P105-million purchase of light operational helicopters by the Philippine National Police in 2009 for its elite Special Action Force (SAF) unit. 

Senator Panfilo M. Lacson and Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Teofisto Guingona III filed Senate Resolution 518 to take a closer look at the acquisition of the Light Police Operational Helicopters (LPOHs) from Manila Aerospace Products Trading Corp. (MAPTRA).

“By intentionally misrepresenting the helicopters they were selling as brand new and likewise, by intentionally accepting the same as such, both MAPTRA and the PNP may have entered into an anomalous contract which not only gave unwarranted benefits or advantage to a party but also one which is manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government in violation of Section 3 (E) and (G) of Republic Act 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” they said in their resolution.

The investigation – made on Lacson’s initiative – stemmed from the planned procurement of three LPOHs for the PNP-SAF’s Air Unit.

On May 8, 2009, the PNP Negotiation Committee started talks with MAPTRA for one equipped LPOH and two standard LPOHs for P105 million – already inconsistent with the PNP-SAF’s requirement of three equipped LPOHs.

Following the failure of the negotiation, then SAF head Chief Superintendent Leocadio Santiago Jr. modified the requirements from three equipped LPOHs to one equipped and two standard LPOHs.

On July 9, 2009, the PNP Negotiation Committee recommended the award of the contract to MAPTRA, which it described as a “legally, technically and financially capable” supplier that had been engaged in the business “for so many years.” Then PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa approved the supply contract to pay MAPTRA P104.985 million.

Acquired by the PNP were one Robinson R44 Raven II and two Robinson R44 Raven I helicopters.

“(But) contrary to the findings of the Negotiation Committee that MAPTRA has been engaged in the business for so many years, the Securities and Exchange Commission records state that MAPTRA was only given its certificate of incorporation on June 10, 2009,” Lacson and Guingona said.

They also learned that of the three supposedly new choppers, the two R44 Raven I choppers were “pre-owned” as far back as March 2004, as shown by flight logs.

“There is an urgent need to look into this anomaly in order to prevent the PNP from entering into another contract of similar nature and to determine possible violations of RA 3019,” they said.