Sixteen top officers and personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were charged yesterday with violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the purchase of 59,904 firearms amounting to P1.198 billion.
Charged were Director General Nicanor Bartolome, in his capacity as PNP chief, Deputy Director General Emelito Sarmiento, Directors Arnulfo Perez, Felipe Rojas, Roque Ramirez and Catalino Uy; Chief Supt. Francisco Uyami Jr., Senior Superintendents Edwin Roque, Percival Placer and Alexandra Pumecha and Antonino Cirujales, Superintendents Marlon Gnilo and Roman Merin Jr., Chief Insp. Jinky Acacio, SPO4 Nonelon Sabigan and NUP Bernardo Sube.
Sarmiento was the chairman of the PNP Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), with members Perez, Ramirez, Rojas and Uyami. Gnilo, Merin, Pumecha, Sabigan and Sube were members of the PNP Technical Working Group (TWG).
In an affidavit-complaint, losing bidders Romulo Maningding, a former police colonel representing Roferma Enterprises, and Peter Go Cheng of Kolonwel Trading accused the respondents of grave misconduct and causing undue injury to the government by awarding to the second highest bidder the contract for the delivery of 9mm pistols for the country’s 148,000 policemen.
The graft charges were described as a “positive development” by the PNP “since we will have a formal venue to show that the procurement of the pistols was aboveboard and followed the principle of transparency,” PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr. told reporters.
“We respect their right to file a complaint if they feel aggrieved. But we did not violate the law. We are ready to face and answer their allegations,” Cerbo said.
Losers given chance
He also stressed that the PNP gave the complainants and other losing bidders a chance to file their respective motions for reconsideration and discuss their grievances with the BAC.
The BAC was charged with several counts of grave misconduct for abusing its authority to recover the cost of the production of the bidding documents when it required each interested bidder to buy the documents at P275,000.
The complainants said the steep price dissuaded most suppliers from participating and diminished the open and competitive nature of the bidding process.
“While a public bidding involves competition and the consequent element of chance, not everybody was keen to lose P275,000 before it could even engage in the competition,” read the complaint.
Despite the steep price, seven suppliers purchased the bidding documents, only for the BAC to change the scope and subject of the bidding itself after the purchase, the complaint said.
It added that the change at a late stage prejudiced the suppliers who had bought the bidding documents for the supply of pistols only, and contributed, in one way or another, to the non-participation in the actual bidding by three of the seven bidders who had paid for bidding documents.
The complaint further said the BAC also exceeded its authority by requiring the bidders to submit sample pistols even before the submission of bids, among other things, “thereby compromising the level playing field.”
The different bids
The bid of P973,679,616 of the Joint Venture of R. Espenile and Israel Weapons Industries was ranked the lowest calculated bid; the joint venture of Trustrade and Glock Asia Pacific Ltd. offered the second lowest bid of P997,997,045.76; the third lowest bid was the P1,064,979,534.00 offered by Joint Venture of Countermeasures Equipages & Security Technologies Inc., Kolonwel Trading and Ceska Zbrojovka A. S., while the highest bid of P1,197,960,129, was submitted by Arms Corporation of the Philippines.
The presence at the prebid conference and the opening of bids of resigned Interior Undersecretary Rico E. Puno, who was not even a member of the BAC, was also assailed in the complaint, which noted that on July 5, 2012, Puno called the representatives of four bidders to a meeting in Camp Crame to talk about their bids.
The lowest bidder, the joint venture of R. Espenile and Israel Weapons Industries, was later disqualified by the BAC for insufficiency of certain documents. The BAC did not allow it to rectify the perceived deficiency, the complaint said.
The BAC then proceeded to test immediately the firearm samples submitted by the joint venture of Trustrade and Glock Asia Pacific Ltd., the second lowest bidder.
The endurance test on the Glock firearms on July 19, appeared in the newspapers, with the picture of no less than Bartolome standing in the booth of Trust Trade and Glock at the Gun Exhibit at SM Megamall.
“The picture unavoidably sent, intended or not, a subliminal message to the PNP personnel conducting the test that he was endorsing the Glock firearm,” the complaint said. With a report from Marlon Ramos