Docus show fast import of choppers sold to PNP
CLARK FREEPORT—The importation by Asian Spirit Inc. in 2004 of five helicopters that were reportedly bought by lawyer Jose Miguel Arroyo was speedy, documents obtained by the Inquirer showed.
The helicopters were reportedly bought by Arroyo, husband of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, so these could be used for his wife’s presidential campaign in 2004.
Two of the helicopters were reportedly sold to the Philippine National Police in 2009. The contract, however, described these helicopters as brand new.
In a letter dated March 2, 2004, Assistant Secretary Nilo Jatico of the Air Transportation Office wrote that he “interpose[d] no objection” to the Feb. 16 request of Asian Spirit to seek clearance to import through the Clark Special Economic Zone five Robinson R-44 Raven helicopters with Serial Nos. 1370, 1371, 1372, 1373 and 1374.
The letter was addressed to Capt. Antonio Buendia, Asian Spirit president.
The next day, Reynato Jose, president of the state-owned Philippine Aerospace Development Corp., gave Buendia the clearance to import the choppers. The letter, made in reply to a March 2 request for clearance, said the total amount of the importation was $1,423,025.
On March 4, the enterprise operations and management department of Clark Development Corp. issued the supplier, Lionair Inc., through its executive vice president, Joaquin Ernesto Po, import permits for the five choppers.
Commercial invoices by Lionair to Asian Spirit, all dated Feb. 3, 2004, showed that the purchase of the choppers was not taxed. Tax-free importation is a privilege given to companies doing business in Clark.
The “package price” of each unit amounted to $281,205 while disassembly and crating cost $3,400, bringing the total to $284,605.
But in a letter on Feb. 16 that year, Tim Goetz, marketing director of the California-based Robinson Helicopter Co. (RHC), wrote Lionair’s Po that “RHC does not sell factory direct.”
The letter was not clear if the addressee, Archie Po, is Archibald Po, the Lionair president who testified before the Senate on the supposedly anomalous purchase of used helicopters by the PNP.
“RHC’s invoices must reflect the true nature of each sale and will only be issued to the dealer purchasing the helicopter. Invoices for helicopters purchased through Lionair’s dealership must be issued to Lionair. The dealer is then responsible for generating any documents related to the sale to its clients,” Goetz said.
Why Po sought this clarification was not known.
The documents obtained by the Inquirer included, however, a certificate from RHC stating that Lionair was a “Robinson-approved independent aircraft dealership” for Model R-44. The dealership was effective from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 in 2004.
This document indicated that Lionair went its way to get a dealership to supply the choppers to the buyer, which, based on documents, was Asian Spirit.
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) in Clark inspected the helicopters with Serial Nos. 1370 and 1371 on March 13. The transshipment permit by BOC showed March 12 as the date of arrival.
The agency checked the helicopters with Serial Nos. 1372 and 1373 on March 20. The last unit, with Serial No. 1374, was inspected on March 24. That meant that it took nine to 20 days from the issuance of the import permits to inspection.
Except for one, eight helicopters brought into Clark from 2001 to 2010 were not processed as fast.
Asian Spirit’s importation of a Robinson R-44 Raven II helicopter took 28 days. The rest took a month or more, records showed.
Sources in the BOC said there were “no standards or average” in the number of days it takes to import an aircraft into Clark.
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