TG Guingona seeks answers in chopper deal
The “serious and potentially damaging allegations” that the military rigged a P1.2-billion contract for the purchase of 21 refurbished helicopters to favor a particular supplier cannot just be ignored by defense officials, said Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III.
Guingona, the chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee that is investigating the deal, said he found the revelations of a Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) officer, who acted as a local agent for the supplier, “disturbing.”
The BIR officer, Rhodora Alvarez, alleged that the contract was “tailor-fit” for the joint venture of Rice Aircraft Services (Rasi) and Eagle Copters.
The joint venture was able to deliver only seven of the 21 helicopters, and several were found to have defects.
“I am giving DND officials and executives of Rasi an ample opportunity to refute the allegations hurled against them in the Alvarez affidavit,” Guingona said in a statement.
In the affidavit she submitted to the committee, Alvarez also talked about her e-mail exchanges with Department of National Defense (DND) officials, including one supposedly sent by the chair of the technical working group, Brig. Gen. Conrado Parra, in which Parra talked about delivery and payment schemes.
In the supposed e-mail, Parra is quoted as saying: “I just don’t know how far they can go in bending [the] rules.”
Alvarez claimed that Parra was referring to Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo and Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez in the alleged e-mail, as the two were on top of the situation and had allegedly shown “bias” toward Rasi.
Defense and military officials have disputed Alvarez’s allegations. In an earlier interview, Manalo said that Alvarez was fabricating stories because she had tried but failed to extort money from Rasi, after failing to explain to the company the allegedly huge expenses she had incurred in facilitating the deal.–Leila B. Salaverria
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