2 suppliers blame each other for chopper deal
The finger-pointing begins.
The company that sold three helicopters to the Philippine National Police (PNP) in 2009, two of which were later found to be second hand, tossed the blame to another firm Thursday, saying it had only served as the middleman in the P105–million deal.
A representative from Manila Aerospace Products Trading (Maptra) denied allegations it misrepresented two choppers it sold the PNP’s elite Special Action Force as brand new, saying another firm, Lionair Inc., was answerable.
“We are only the agent of Lionair, which is the authorized dealer of Robinson helicopters. All questions about the helicopters must be answered by them,” said Realyn Musni, a Maptra employee assigned to answer media inquiries on the subject.
Asked how the company responds to allegations that the choppers are pre-owned, she said: “Are they really second-hand? Again, Lionair is the one that can answer.”
She told the Inquirer Maptra had not received the PNP’s demand letter asking the company to replace the second-hand units with brand new ones. Musni added that they would only forward it to Lionair should the letter come.
But when contacted by the Inquirer, Lionair’s marketing manager Edith Solano-Juguan, said Lionair was not privy to the negotiations between Maptra and the PNP.
She said Lionair only sold the units to Maptra, which then negotiated on its own with the PNP. “We are not accredited so we cannot sell units directly to the PNP,” she said.
Solano-Juguan said Lionair’s own deal with Maptra had involved the sale of “one brand new and two pre-owned helicopters.”
She suggested that Maptra might have told the PNP that all three units were brand new, although she maintained Lionair had no knowledge of the negotiations between the two.
On the heels of Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s call for a probe into the anomaly, the PNP earlier warned Maptra that appropriate legal action would be taken against it should it fail to comply with a demand to replace the second-hand choppers.
An investigation by the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management revealed that the two Robinson R44 Raven I helicopters had each logged more than 500 flying hours, based on records of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.
The PNP earlier said it was prepared to answer any questions into the purchase of the choppers.
In May 2009, the PNP negotiated with Maptra for the purchase of three equipped light police operational helicopters (LPOHs), later modified to only one equipped and two standard LPOHs. The contract was approved two months later.
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