PNP probes P1-B license dealBy DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Philippine National Police (PNP) is investigating a P1-billion agreement that the previous PNP leadership had allegedly concluded with a firm in 2010 involving the production of license cards for the service firearms of police officers and security guards over a 15-year period.
The case concerns a contract signed by the PNP, then headed by Director General Jesus Versoza, with the Nanjing Industrial Tools and Equipment Co. for the printing of the cards worth P150 each.
According to documents obtained by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Interior Secretary Jesse M. Robredo, in two memorandums dated January 4 and January 13, sought an explanation from PNP Chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome on why the contract had not gone through bidding procedures, among other alleged irregularities.
The memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the contract was signed in March 2010 by Luizo Ticman, the then PNP Director for Logistics, and Romeo Macapinlac, the president of Nanjing, with offices at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. It was approved by Versoza.
Based on a computation by the legal office of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Nanjing has been printing an average of 21,818 cards per month for the PNP’s Firearms and Explosives Division (FED) and 20,245 cards per month for the PNP’s Supervisory Office for Security Agencies.
This means that over a period of 15 years at a cost of P150 for each card, the contract is worth a staggering P1.1357 billion, the DILG said.
In the leaked memos, Robredo ordered Bartolome to review the MOA after an examination by the DILG legal office showed that it “appears to be not in accordance with” procurement laws.
Under Republic Act 9184, the DILG said, all procurement, regardless of the source of funds, whether local or foreign, by all branches and departments of governments, should be done through competitive bidding.
“It appears that there was no competitive bidding conducted prior to the selection of Nanjing,” Robredo said in the memo.
He also cited “ambiguous provisions” in the MOA, particularly one that authorized Nanjing to pull out all its materials and equipment in the event that the project was aborted or cancelled prior to its completion. Robredo asked to be clarified if the provision still applied should the MOA be cancelled due to Nanjing’s own fault.
In the second memo, Robredo enumerated other apparent irregularities, such as one mentioned by Senator Panfilo Lacson during a Senate plenary budget hearing in November 2011, in which he questioned why the P150 fee for the license card was being paid directly to the contract for Nanjing without a standard government payment order.
In that Senate hearing, Lacson noted that prior to 2009, “everything was covered by an order of payment addressed to Landbank.”
Bartolome, in a January 6 letter, replied to Robredo’s first memo, saying his office had created a technical working group (TWG) under acting FED chief Senior Superintendent Raul Petrasanta to review the MOA and to make appropriate recommendations.
Contacted for comment, Petrasanta said the TWG had consulted the PNP’s legal office on possible remedies but he did not indicate any time frame.
He cited two scenarios that might occur once the review was completed: Either the validity of the contract is upheld or it is revised, in which case there may be a bidding and the term of the contract may be shortened.
Petrasanta said there were concerns about the length of the MOA, and the fact that it had been entered into without prior bidding.
P150 card fee
But he pointed out that the P150 license card fee was being paid directly to Nanjing because otherwise it would take six months for the fees to be remitted to the contractor if the funds went through the PNP first.
Petrasanta said Nanjing expressed apprehension that the six-month wait for the fees would render it unable to continue the service for lack of available funds. He also said that the PNP was not adding to or subtracting from the agreed P150 fee, thus the arrangement for direct payment to Nanjing “at no cost to the government,” a claim Robredo disputed in his memorandum to Bartolome.
PNP legal opinion
“At this point, we will wait for the opinion from the PNP’s legal service then we will make the corresponding recommendations,” Petrasanta said.
In an interview, Robredo confirmed the existence of the contract and his orders to Bartolome to get to the bottom of the anomaly.
“I have asked the PNP to give an explanation,” he said, but added the PNP had yet to give a progress report on its review of the MOA.
According to its website, Nanjing is a leading provider of “industrial tools, instrumentation and equipment and their related products to semiconductor, electronics and manufacturing industries.”
The Inquirer repeatedly called the Taguig office of Nanjing seeking comment but the calls were not immediately returned. A phone operator said no one was available to answer inquiries.