Evidence over helicopter deal can pin down Arroyo in court-Jinggoy Estrada
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Jinggoy Estrada assured the public on Monday that the evidence so far gathered against former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo for allegedly selling to the police second-hand helicopters at brand new prices, was sufficient and strong enough to stand in court.
And according to Estrada, Mr. Arroyo looks healthy enough to appear before the Senate blue ribbon inquiry.
His colleague, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, insisted that former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Jesus Verzosa should be held “directly responsible” for the allegedly anomalous P105-million chopper purchase.
“He (Arroyo) is the missing link,” Estrada told reporters in an interview at the Kapihan sa Diamond Hotel.
“He (Arroyo) keeps on talking to the media, in front of the cameras, denying ownership (of two secondhand helicopters sold to the PNP). He should say that in the Senate and not in front of cameras,” the senator stressed.
He added, “Mahirap iyong nagsasakit-sakitan (It’s difficult when one is feigning illness). I think he is physically fit to appear before the Senate,” and pointed out that the Senate Blue Ribbon committee has to issue a subpoena for Arroyo to attend the inquiry.
Estrada maintained that the Senate has gathered enough evidence against Arroyo that could stand in court, citing testimonial evidence given by Archibald Po, owner of Lionair Inc and that of a representative of the Manila Aerospace Products Trading (Maptra).
Po claimed that he personally delivered to the LTA building US$700,000 to Mike Arroyo, who passed the sum to his secretary Rowena del Rosario. The delivery, he alleged, was made a few days after the PNP purchased two pre-owned helicopters on April 16, 2010.
On the other hand, Lionair collections agent Edith Solano-Juguan regularly collected monthly P350,000 as maintenance fees paid in cash to her by Del Rosario.
Meanwhile, Trillanes told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that former PNP Chief Verzosa must be charged with a serious offense for the allegedly anomalous transaction, taking into consideration the amount involved.
“He (Verzosa) has direct responsibility. He is the commander. He is the one who signed it (purchase contract). He is the one who approved it,” the senator emphasized but said that lawyers should determine the specific charge to be filed against the retired police general.
Trillanes pointed out that the purchasing contract should not have been negotiated and that Maptra, being a single proprietorship, was not a qualified proponent, considering that the capitalization required for the purchase order was quite high.
“There was a lot of auditing procedures violated. Of course, that is for the COA (Commision on Audit) to investigate on or audit,” he stressed.
“For a major procurement worth P105 million, that should be the call of the commander. The commander should be very, very interested in that. So I cannot accept what General Verzosa is saying that he had this presumption of regularity in all the committees under him. That should not be the case, based on my experience,” Trillanes pointed out.
He told the Inquirer that if he had been the procurement officer, he would have categorically asked the commander if he wanted the procurement done by the book or not.
The senator explained that the go-signal of the commander has always been extremely important for the procurement officer.
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