Manila Standard Today
Award made on day Roxas named to DILG
Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno approved a midnight deal to buy almost 60,000 pistols for the police at a cost of P997.99 illion on the same day that the newly appointed secretary of the department, Manuel Roxas II, announced his reassignment, a lawmaker said Friday.
Agham Rep. Angelo Palmones said the deal with Trust Trade and its partner, Glock Asia Pacific Ltd., was made Aug. 31, the same day that President Benigno Aquino III appointed Roxas as DILG secretary and gave him a free hand to bring in his own team.
Roxas said he would order a revamp and take control of the Philippine National Police, which had been under Puno when Jesse Robredo was secretary.
“It is too much of a coincidence for Puno and [PNP Chief Nicanor] Bartolome to award the contract on the same day that Puno was technically stripped of his power,” Palmones said.
Palmones urged Roxas and President Aquino to review the awarding of the P1-billion contract and get the PNP to clear up allegations of irregularity surround the bidding.
Bartolome insisted there was nothing wrong with the process.
“Our procurement process is very transparent. There’s no contract signing yet. Only the notice of award has been signed after complying with the procedures,” Bartolome told the Manila Standard.
The Manila Standard was unable to reach Roxas and it unclear if he would affirm the P1-billion purchase when he officially takes over from Robredo, who died in a plane crash Aug. 18.
The day after Robredo was declared missing, Puno was reported to have tried to break into Robredo’s condominium unit and offices in Quezon City, prompting Mrs. Robredo to ask the President to secure their apartment.
Mrs. Robredo had said her husband had sensitive documents on the investigation he had done on DILG and police officials.
A Palace spokesman, Secretary Ramon Carandang, confirmed that Robredo was conducting “sensitive investigations” before he died, but declined to say what these involved.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who secured Robredo’s apartment on orders of the President, said she did not know what documents were found there.
Commenting on the notice of award, Palmones said: “Granting that everything is in order, what was the rush to award the P1-billion contract when Secretary Roxas has yet to settle down. What’s the rush?”
He also pointed to alleged anomalies raised by the losing bidders, including one report that said the Glock 9 mm pistols misfired during testing.
“Why do we have to settle for guns that are defective? We do not want to risk the lives of our police,” Palmones said.
But Bartolome said there was no rush, saying that bidding had begun as early as June 28.
Peter Go Cheng of Kolonwel Trading, a losing bidder, said Puno was present at all times during the bidding process, and did not follow bidding rules to allow all participants to submit their guns for testing.
The P997.99 million will buy 59,904 units of caliber 9 mm pistols at P16,659.94 each.
Cheng also said Puno and Bartolome disqualified many of them despite having better products and lower prices to favor Trust Trade and Glock.
A day after the President’s State-Of-The-Nation Address, Palmones and Antipolo City Rep. Reynaldo Acop called for an investigation into the P1-billion gun procurement, saying the President might have been misled into announcing 74,600 pistols when the bidding had not yet been completed at the time.
Palmones said he was particularly interested in finding out why the President announced 74,600 pistols would be distributed to the police, when the contract was for only 59,904.
“Was the President being made to believe that the P1-billion contract would deliver the police force some 74,600 pistols when only 59,904 will be actually delivered as prescribed in bid documents?” Palmones said. “Where will the rest of the 14,696 pistols go?”
Four bidders joined the bidding: the joint venture of R. Espenille with Israel Weapons Industries; the joint venture of Trust Trade and Glock Asia Pacific Ltd.; the joint venture of Countermeasures Equipages and Securities Technologies Inc., Kolonwel Trading and Ceska Zbrojovka; and Armscor.
The Espenille group was declared the winner for having the lowest bid but the bids and awards committee disqualified it after finding that its Israeli partner did not have proper authorization and certification from the embassy, as required in the bidding process.
Palmones and Antipolo City Rep. Reynaldo Acop said the Glock group, registered in Hong Kong, only had an authorized capital of HK$ 10,000, and used the papers of another Glock company to circumvent the bidding rules.
Acop and Palmones said the product test on the Glock firearms started on July 19, 2012.
On the second day of the test, they said, a photo of a PNP official, the chief of the procurement, was published in a national newspaper, showing him at the booth of Trust Trade and Glock at a gun exhibit in SM Megamall.
The picture, they said, had the “subtle and subliminal effect” of endorsing the Glock pistols that were undergoing testing.
After the President’s announcement on July 23 that a bidder had emerged as winner, the bids and awards committee said no more firearms would be tested, prompting the other bidders to complain, Acop and Palmones said.
The two lawmakers sought a congressional investigation. With Sara Susanne D. Fabunan and Rey E. Requejo
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Robredo probing Puno on arms deal before crash
ABS-CBN News was able to secure a copy of the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) reporton the planned purchase of assault rifles by the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force that involved two procurements of nearly P178 million and P213 million.
The documents show that Robredo received the report on August 8, less than two weeks before the fatal plane crash off Masbate.
ABS-CBN News sources said this report is among the sensitive documents that were in Robredo’s condominium unit at the time of his death.
This is the same condo unit that Puno and some police officials allegedly tried to access on August 19, a day after the plane crash.
Robredo’s wife, Atty. Maria Leonor, confirmed that she was told of Puno’s attempt to enter the condo unit.
“’Yung kasambahay namin sa Manila, naiwan doon sa bahay kasi nag-uwian na rin ‘yung mga anak ko. Tumawag siya nu’ng August 19, nagsasabing may mga tao, hindi naman niya sinabi kung sino. May mga tatlo raw na gustong pumasok at may hinihingi na mga papeles. Nagtatanong siya sakin kung papasukin niya. So ang sabi ko po ay hindi. Tamang-tama katabi ko naman si [DSWD] Sec. Dinky [Soliman] at nagpatulong po ako,” Robredo’s wife said.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, meanwhile, said she was unaware of Puno’s actions.
However, she confirmed that Robredo’s wife asked her to secure the documents.
Malacañang has refused to comment on the issue for now, but sources said President Aquino also has a copy of the DILG report.
“What I can confirm is that before his death, Secretary Robredo was conducting a number of very sensitive investigations. But I will not comment on the specifics of what was being investigated or who. I think lalabas din ‘yan,” said Secretary Ricky Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office.
Cop denies ‘raid’
In an interview with dzMM on Friday, Supt. Oliver Tanseco denied that Puno and several cops tried to access Robredo’s condominium unit and offices to conduct a raid.
Tanseco, who was tagged as one of the policemen who accompanied Puno in the alleged raid, said they went to Robredo’s condo and offices under instructions from the President.
Tanseco said President Aquino ordered a lockdown to ensure that confidential documents are secured and Robredo’s belongings will not be lost.
There is no indication that Puno may have been after the DILG report, but the report shows that the documents may implicate Puno in the alleged anomalous arms deal.
The document shows that Puno travelled to Israel upon the invitation of weapons manufacturer Israel Military Industries (IMI).
Puno was accompanied by former Special Action Forces Chief Leocadio Santiago, Reynaldo Espineli, owner of a defense and security company, and Puno’s consultant, Ramiro Lopez III.
Lopez is said to have accompanied Puno when the undersecretary went to Robredo’s office at the National Police Commission a day after the plane crash.
The DILG report says Puno’s group left for Israel on May 10, the same date of the second pre-bid conference for the purchase of short firearms.
It cites a possible conflict of interest since Puno and Lopez were both members of the bids and awards committee.
Espineli and IMI won the bid for assault rifles out of seven bidders.
The report also says specifications of the assault rifles seem to have been amended to favor a particular bidder.
Robredo initially sought a review of the price for the assault rifles.
But while the bidding process was suspended, Robredo still wanted to hold some officials accountable for pushing for the deal.
ABS-CBN News again tried to get the side of Puno and Espineli on the firearms deal but both declined to comment. – With reports from Edwin Sevidal, dzMM; ANC