After charging former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and 25 others with plunder in connection with the allegedly anomalous sale and purchase of two helicopters in 2009, the Philippine National Police is expected to file criminal charges over what it claimed were irregularities in the purchase of rubber boats in 2009 and the repair of V-150 armored personnel carriers in 2007.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) team tasked to probe the P131.5-million rubber boat transaction will submit its report this week, which is expected to recommend the filing of criminal charges against suppliers and police officials linked to the alleged anomaly.
Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo earlier questioned the purchase of 75 rubber boats and 93 outboard motors, saying that the equipment were found to be incompatible and thus unusable.
The supplier of the boats and outboard motors, Enviro-Aire, denied the charge.
CIDG Director Samuel Pagdilao Jr. told reporters on Friday that his deputy, Chief Superintendent Benito Estipona, head of the investigating team, would submit his recommendations on Wednesday.
Estipona said the inquiry into the rubber boat purchase dealt with an aspect that was different from the allegedly anomalous acquisition of the helicopters for the PNP in 2009.
“In the case of the rubber boats and motors, the question is not whether the equipment was brand new or if delivery was made, but if the equipment could be used by the PNP and if the contract was detrimental to the government,” he said.
Magnitude of transaction
Pagdilao said another CIDG team looking into an alleged scam in the repair of the V-150 armored carriers might need more time to finish the probe “given the magnitude” of the transaction, whose cost amounted to P409.74 million.
“We evaluated the documents and results of the fact-finding committee. The deals have generated voluminous documents and might involve more than 30 persons and at least four separate transactions in four supposed-to-be procurement activities,” he said.
Pagdilao said the CIDG might have to ask Robredo for more time to gather and authenticate documents, as well as to interview and investigate 32 persons who might be involved in the scam.
Robredo had given the CIDG 15 days to finish the probe and file charges, if necessary.
“We will try our best to finish within the time frame given to us but I believe we should not be constrained by time, especially if it will affect the outcome of our investigation,” Pagdilao said.
Over acquisition cost
A six-member fact-finding committee had found that the repair and refurbishing of 28 armored personnel carriers had violated audit regulations, noting that the repair cost exceeded the original acquisition cost of the vehicles by more than 30 percent.
The committee also drew attention to the “haste” by which the claims were processed and payments made in January 2007, “even before the first of the refurbished units had yet to be delivered seven months later.”
Former PNP Director General Avelino Razon Jr. said he believed his subordinates in the PNP’s bids and awards committee (BAC) had acted in good faith, and that they were only acting in the PNP’s best interest.
He denied there was collusion with the six suppliers involved in the transaction, among them, Enviro-Aire.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte yesterday said the filing of charges against Arroyo, former PNP Director General Jesus Versoza and 24 others before the Ombudsman would finally bring out the truth about the allegedly anomalous purchase of two the helicopters.
“We hope that this will strengthen what we’ve been pushing for a long time, which is accountability,” Valte said over government radio station dzRB.
“We said in the investigation that there were questions that weren’t really answered. There were contradicting answers. But it is clear that there was a purchase and what was purchased was not what was planned for,” she said.
“There was a misrepresentation as to the status of the goods that were procured. So somebody should really answer for this. We are hopeful that the wheels of justice would turn in this issue,” Valte added.
Catholic Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of Caloocan and auxiliary bishop of Manila Broderick Pabillo also said that they supported the filing of plunder charges against Mike Arroyo and the others.
“I am happy with the move. Hopefully we will arrive at the truth,” Iñiguez said.
“I do not know the intricacies of the case but we are looking for accountabilities in all anomalous transactions,” Pabillo added.