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Ombudsman charges Mike Arroyo, 21 others with graft for police chopper scam

June 6, 2012 3:59pm
(Updated 6:05 p.m.) The Office of the Ombudsman has charged former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and 19 police officials with graft for alleged irregularities in the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s purchase of two helicopters in 2009.
The charges were filed before the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The Ombudsman said that after its investigation, it found out that Mr. Arroyo and the police officials, led by ex-PNP chief Jesus Verzosa, “caused undue injury” to the national government amounting to P34.6 million when the second-hand helicopters were sold to the PNP as brand new three years ago.

Aside from Mr. Arroyo and Verzosa, those charged were:
  • former PNP logistics Director Luizo Ticman
  • former research division head Ronald Roderos
  • former PNP comptroller Romeo Hilomen
  • former PNP deputy chief for operations Jefferson Soriano
  • Director Leocadio Santiago Jr.
  • Chief Superintendent Herold Ubalde
  • Superintendent Ermilando Villafuerte
  • Superintendent Roman Loreto
  • Director George Piano
  • Senior Superintendent Luis Saligumba
  • Senior Superintendent Job Antonio
  • Senior Superintendent Edgar Paatan
  • Senior Superintendent Mansue Lukban
  • Chief Inspector Maria Josefina Recometa
  • Superintendent Claudio Gaspar Jr.
  • Senior Superintendent Larry Balmaceda
  • SPO3 Ma. Linda Padojinog and 
  • PO3 Avensuel Dy.
Two other civilians were also charged with graft. They are Ruben Gongona of the PNP directorate for research and development, and Hilario de Vera, president of Manila Aerospace Trading Corporation (MAPTRA).

As of posting time, GMA News Online has yet to reach the camps of Mr. Arroyo and Verzosa. The former First Gentleman, however, has repeatedly denied this allegation.

Senate hearings

The Ombudsman, through Assistant Special Prosecutor Manuel Soriano Jr., likewise said the police officials committed “manifest partiality, evident bad faith or at the very least, gross inexcusable negligence” when it granted the chopper deal to Mr. Arroyo.
In July 2009, the PNP procured two Robinson R44 Raven 1 helicopters from MAPTRA. The choppers were supplied to the firm by Lionair Inc., supposedly acting on Mr. Arroyo’s orders.
During the Senate hearing last year, several witnesses—including Lionair president Archibald Po—testified that Mr. Arroyo was the real owner of the second-hand choppers sold as brand new to the PNP.

Mr. Arroyo’s brother, the late Rep. Ignacio Arroyo Jr., defended the former First Gentleman. He testified that the choppers were only leased from Lionair Inc.
Several witnesses during the Senate probe, however, challenged the veracity of the supposed lease agreement between Lionair and the Arroyos’ family firm, LTA Inc.
‘Irregular, illegal acts’
In filing the case, the Ombudsman said the respondents committed “numerous irregular and illegal related acts” through the procurement of the choppers.
The Ombudsman said the PNP officials granted the contract to MAPTRA despite the fact that it “did not possess the technical and financial eligibility” requirements under the Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
The complaint also pointed out that the choppers “were not brand new” and had problems with their endurance and ventilating systems.
Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, whose department has supervision over the National Police, hoped that the case will be resolved soon.

"This demonstrates that the tuwid na daan campaign spares no one. [It] sends a message to [the] PNP that [the] present administration is bent [on] reforming the organization," Robredo said. 

For his part, PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent Senior Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said "the PNP will abide or comply with what will be the order or advice of the Ombudsman." — RSJ/ELR/VS/HS, GMA News

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