22 Mei 2015
PAF Huey helicopter (photo : Manila Times)
MANILA, Philippines - The bidding for the acquisition of 21 refurbished combat helicopters worth P1.2 billion was aboveboard, according to officials of the Department of National Defense (DND).
The DND accepted only seven helicopters after Secretary Voltaire Gazmin terminated the contract and blacklisted the supplier, Defense Undersecretaries Pio Lorenzo Batino and Fernando Manalo, Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez told the Senate Blue Ribbon committee yesterday.
Manalo, undersecretary for finance, munitions, installations and materials, said he has documents to prove that Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) employee Rhodora Alvarez had a personal motive in her “exposé” against DND officials.
“I was never an agent of Mr. Rice,” he said, referring to Robert Rice Jr., Rice Aircraft Services Inc. (RASI) president.
“In the statement of Rice, Ms. Rhodora is trying to extort money from Rice Aircraft. When Rice discovered the huge sum spent that she could not explain, suddenly she demanded 15 percent, otherwise she would have the contract canceled.”
Alvarez had testified at the Senate that she was privy to the deal between Air Force officials and RASI and its local counterpart, Eagle Copters Inc.
She had met Tak Nguyen, a former representative for Rice Aircraft, which the supplier had denounced for misrepresenting himself as a representative of the US State Department and faking documents related to the procurement, she added.
Denying the allegations of Alvarez, Brig. Gen. Conrado Parra Jr., DND Technical Working Group chairman, said he had talked with Tak Nguyen and Alvarez mainly because he headed the DND-TWG.
“That’s the official meeting that we had,” he said.
“With regard to the allegations that my brother was sent to the States to work for Rice is not true. My brother has been in the States for 13 years and his work is not with Rice, I want to say that on record regarding that malicious allegation.”