SOME Philippine Air Force (PAF) officers are allegedly in cahoots with ranking officials of the Department of National Defense (DND) who are involved in the questionable procurement of 21 refurbished UH-1 helicopters that have “issues,” including supposed violations of the Term of Reference (TOR) by the American supplier.
“Joey,” who blew the whistle on the helicopter deal, said he knows some PAF officers with the rank of major to general who are part of the group that “may have benefited” from the onerous deal.
He will be tapped as state witness once Congress holds a formal investigation of the case.
“I have emails and personal experience to back me up. I believe they are opting for a cover-up, part of it being the fact that they showed to the media that two of the choppers could actually fly. Eight of the UH-1D aircraft have been accepted. Four of them are in Villamor [Air Base]. How come they displayed only two? Because the two others don’t fly, yet they have been paid [for],” “Joey,” who made public “discrepancies” in the P1.2-billion helicopter contract between the military and Rice Aircraft Services Inc. (RASI) and its Canadian counterpart, Eagle Copters Ltd., said.
The source added that the PAF officers are involved in the procurement, inspection and testing of aircraft that are added to their inventory, besides the 21 helicopters supplied by RASI.
“I couldn’t say that they are a mafia but certainly they are close to being a syndicate. They are under the protection of a ranking Defense official who had worked with them in the past. Right now, my friends there are saying that their group is trying to hide and cover up the discrepancies,” the informant told The Manila Times.
“Joey” is now in the protective custody of a ranking leader of Congress who is preparing to call for an inquiry into the chopper deal. When asked to identify the DND and PAF officials, the source replied, “You’ll know in time. When my testimony is made formal. What I can say is that they figured prominently recently in justifying the deal.”
The source said the PAF officers inspected the aircraft at RASI’s facility in the United States. “Joey” said the defects and discrepancies were known to the inspectors since Day 1 but the deal pushed through just the same.
“If you can get a copy of the post-qualification report, you’ll find there that there was no mention of the discrepancies whatsoever. They reported that the aircraft were in perfect condition so that RASI should bag the deal,” the informant added.
“They are making a fool out of the people. There is corruption there and [name of officer]is a disgrace to the service,” he said.
Meanwhile, according to the source, feelers were sent to him about an attempt by the supplier and the ranking DND official to “buy his silence.”
“Joey” said RASI lawyers in the country invited him for a dialogue. The “invitation,” which was coursed through a friend, is aimed at discussing “payment” for his silence.
“I told them, through a friend, to keep their money and use it in future litigation. I don’t do this for money. This is for the pilots who fly those flying coffins, their families, the PAF and the country. They are now in panic because they know I have the goods on them,” he added.