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Ejercito wants to reopen probe into anomalous chopper purchases

JV Ejercito

Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito. (Photo from an INQUIRER.net video)

Sen. JV Ejercito plans to seek the reopening of an investigation into allegedly anomalous helicopter purchases by the Department of National Defense (DND) following the May 4 crash that killed three Air Force servicemen.

In a Facebook post late Friday, Ejercito said he was saddened and frustrated by news of the crash by a military UH-1D (Huey) helicopter in Tanay, Rizal because it could have been prevented.

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“Last 16th Congress, I filed a resolution which led to the Senate investigation of the anomalous purchase of these UH-1D choppers,” Ejercito said. “Unsurprisingly, the chopper that recently crashed was part of the anomalous deal that we investigated!”

“These 50-year old choppers that the DND purchased are older than our retiring military personnel! Deaths resulting from accidents which can actually be prevented by the level of technological advancement is unforgivable,” he added.

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Ejercito blamed the tragic crash on people who benefitted from “shadowy deals.”

“Corruption kills,” he went on. “I will again file a resolution to re-open the investigation for this anomalous chopper deal to make sure that our military will not be forced to use unsafe ancient aircrafts.”

Ina 2013 inquiry, defense officials told the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that the DND bought P1.2-billion worth of refurbished combat helicopters for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

They claimed that buying 50-year-old helicopters would be more practical than getting brand new choppers.

The DND got 21 refurbished UH-1D helicopters from a joint Venture of Rice Aircraft Services, Inc (Rasi) and Eagle Copters, Ltd. on Dec. 28, 2013.

On Thursday afternoon, three Air Force personnel – Capt Christian Paul Litan; Staff Sgt. Byron Tolosa; and Airman 1st Class Joseph de Leon – were killed when a UH-1D helicopter crashed in Tanay, Rizal.

The chopper had just taken part in disaster response and air-to-ground operations training at Camp Capinpin and was about to land at Sitio Hilltop, Barangay Sampaloc when the incident happened.

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All 11 UH-1D helicopters of the Air Force were grounded pending the outcome of the investigation. /atm

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TAGS: anomalous helicopter purchases, Department of National Defense, JV Erjercito, Philippine Air Force, Tanay helicopter crash
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