MORE DETAILS IN BLUE RIBBON’S
CHOPPER DEAL INVESTIGATION
SENATOR Teofisto “TG” Guingona III is set to hear on July 7 the fourth segment of the Blue Ribbon Committee’s investigation of the Defense Department’s procurement of 21 refurbished combat UH-1 helicopters. Whistleblower Rhodora Alvarez will again take the stand to reveal more details on the P1.25-billion chopper deal.
The testimony of Alvarez, a government employee previously associated with US-based Rice Aircraft Services, was last heard by the Senate committee on June 9th. In that hearing, Alvarez charged that DND and Philippine Air Force (PAF) officials colluded in bending established rules on procurement and tailor-fitting them to benefit a patently disqualified aircraft supplier, Rice Aircraft Services.
As promised during the last Senate hearing, Alvarez will share more of what she knows about some allegations she made early this month. In response, affected Defense and Air Force officials will have a chance to challenge the allegations made against them, point by point.
In a signed affidavit, Alvarez testified that Rice Aircraft Services, in joint venture with Eagle Copters Ltd., was awarded a negotiated contract after having been consistently disqualified in a series of government biddings for the purchase of combat helicopters for the AFP.
Rice Aircraft Services eventually bagged the negotiated contract worth P1.25-billion in December 2013 for 21 refurbished combat Huey UH-1 choppers on the premise that they will be delivered within 180 days.
But Defense officials will have to contend with the whistleblower’s assertion that under deliveries have been made since. Allegedly, the winning supplier is still assembling and refurbishing the bulk Huey helicopter deliveries in PAF-owned hangars in Clark Air Base, close to two years since the contract was awarded. /MP