Jose Miguel Arroyo was haled to court Wednesday over the sale to the Philippine National Police of two of five helicopters which he allegedly bought from an American firm for the use of his wife, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for her campaign in the 2004 presidential election.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed a graft charge against Arroyo in the Sandiganbayan, accusing him of selling two secondhand Raven I helicopters, but that were passed off as brand-new.
Senator Panfilo Lacson welcomed the filing of charges, saying, “it’s the long arm of the law finally catching up with Mike Arroyo, and hopefully it will catch up with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.”
Charged with Mike Arroyo were 20 PNP officials, led by then Director General Jesus Verzosa, and Hilario de Vera, president of Manila Aerospace Products Trading (Maptra), a PNP supplier. The graft charge is bailable, at P30,000 for each of the accused.
They were accused of violating Section 3 (e) of the antigraft law, which penalizes acts of public officials that cause undue injury to any party or give a private party any unwarranted benefits or advantage.
Seven other PNP officials were also charged with falsification of public documents for claiming that the two helicopters sold to the police had conformed to specifications set by the National Police Commission (Napolcom).
Arroyo’s first graft case, filed late last year, stemmed from his role in the approval of the
$329-million National Broadband Network deal with China’s ZTE Corp. The deal was scrapped amid allegations of overpricing and payoffs.
The Office of the Ombudsman listed Lionair Inc. owner Archibald Po, who had named Mike Arroyo as the true owner of the helicopters, as one of its witnesses.
Po earlier testified in a Senate inquiry that he delivered $700,000 in cash to Arroyo at the LTA Building in Makati City following the sale of the aircraft.
Arroyo has filed a perjury case against Po in the Pasay City prosecutor’s office.
Lionair is the exclusive distributor of Robinson helicopters in the country. Maptra was Lionair’s marketing agent in the bidding for helicopters at the PNP.
In its charge sheet, the Office of the Ombudsman alleged that the police officials conspired with Arroyo and De Vera to sell Arroyo’s two used helicopters to the PNP from 2009 to 2010.
It said they “willfully, unlawfully and criminally [gave] unwarranted benefits, advantage and preference” to Arroyo, De Vera and Maptra through “irregular and related acts pertaining to the negotiated procurement by the PNP” of three helicopters.
P104.9M for 3 choppers
Other PNP officials charged with graft were Directors Luizo Ticman, Ronald Roderos, Romeo Hilomen, George Piano and Leocadio Santiago; Deputy Director General Jefferson Soriano; Chief Superintendent Herold Ubalde; Senior Superintendents Luis Saligumba, Job Antonio, Edgar Paatan, Mansue Lukban and Larry Balmaceda; Superintendents Ermilando Villafuerte and Roman Loreto; Chief Insp. Maria Josefina Recometa; Superintendent Claudio Gaspar Jr.; Senior Police Officer 3 Ma. Linda Padojinog; Police Officer 3 Avensuel Dy; and nonuniformed personnel Ruben Gongona.
The Office of the Ombudsman alleged that the PNP officials awarded the contract to Maptra for the supply and delivery of three helicopters in 2009 for P104.985 million even though Maptra did not have the technical and financial eligibility under the rules.
The PNP bought two standard Robinson R44 Raven I helicopters and one fully equipped Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter through a negotiated procurement with Maptra.
The Ombudsman found that the two Raven I helicopters offered by Maptra during the negotiation process were not brand-new, had expired engine warranties, and did not conform to the specifications on an endurance and ventilating system that the PNP first set when it sought to buy helicopters.
Despite this, the PNP still bought the secondhand helicopters at brand-new prices.
By paying for the three helicopters although two of them were not brand-new, the PNP lost P34.632 million, the overprice of the amount it gave to Maptra, the Office of the Ombudsman noted.
The PNP also suffered undue injury and grave damage because it was deprived of two new helicopters with engine warranties and longer serviceability, it added.
The Office of the Ombudsman also filed falsification of public documents charges against Piano, Saligumba, Antonio, Paatan, Roderos, Lukban and Dy. Their bail was set at P24,000 each.
It alleged that Piano, Saligumba, Antonio and Paatan falsified the resolution of the inspection and acceptance committee by stating that the two Raven I helicopters conformed to the specifications of the Napolcom and had passed the acceptance criteria.
This was “absolutely false,” the Ombudsman said.
Lukban and Dy were accused of falsifying the inspection report form by claiming that the two helicopters had passed Napolcom standards.
Roderos was charged after claiming in a memorandum order that based on the inspection, the two Raven I helicopters delivered to the PNP had met all the requirements.
The day before the second graft charge case was filed against Mike Arroyo, he sought permission from the Sandiganbayan fourth division to travel to Japan from June 16 to 21 to meet anew with the Filipino community.
The Sandiganbayan division is handling Arroyo’s graft case in connection with the NBN-ZTE deal.
Arroyo also said he wanted to go to Hong Kong from June 21 to 23 to attend to business for the family’s LTA building of which he is president, before returning to the Philippines.
In his motion, he said Filipinos in Edogawa-Ku, whom he met with last month, had invited him to return for further discussions of their concerns.
The invitation came from a certain Evelyn Solis, who told Arroyo in a letter that his previous talk before the Filipinos there “generated immense impact” and they wanted to talk with him further.
Solis also said the community wanted to give him a tour of the recreational sites there.
Arroyo said he was still entitled to his constitutional right to travel, stressing that he is innocent until proven otherwise.
Originally posted at 04:21 pm | Wednesday, June 06, 2012