• ‘Gazmin did not ask for chopper commission’


    The Department of Defense (DND) on Wednesday branded as “figment of imagination” the claim of a government employee that Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin was promised seven percent “commission” in exchange for awarding the P1.2-billion helicopter supply contract to a favored bidder.

    “The allegations of Rhodora Alvarez are figments of her imagination. The SND has never asked nor issued instructions to seek favors from any entities nor manipulate transactions that would violate the public trust and result in a disadvantage to the government,” DND spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez said.

    He was reacting to Alvarez’s sworn statement that she submitted to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that she learned about the alleged “commission” in a “secret” meeting between Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo and Robert Rice Jr, president of Rice Aircraft Services Inc. (RASI), the company that won the helicopter contract. The officials allegedly met at the DND on November 4, 2013.

    Alvarez, who blew the whistle on the helicopter deal, added that the meeting was held after a pre-negotiation conference between RASI and the DND.

    It was during the meeting that Manalo reminded Rice about the commitment allegedly made by the firm’s representative, Thach Nguyen, that RASI will give commissions to DND officials who were involved in the project.

    “There, [Manalo] confirmed to Mr. Rice that Mr. Nguyen committed to give 7 percent commission to SND (Secretary of National Defense) and 5 percent down the line,” Alvarez said in her sworn affidavit.

    Among those who will reportedly share the five percent cut were Manalo, Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez and other individuals whom she did not name.

    In debunking Alvarez’s claim, Galvez said the Defense chief has strict instructions to all DND officials “to avoid acts of impropriety in all their dealings or acts that may be wrongly perceived.”


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