General ‘bribed’ with US visa

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ODE TO ‘JOEY’ Whistleblower Rhodora Alvarez (left), who used the alias Joey in The Manila Times expose, gestures during her presentation before the Senate blue ribbon committee on Wednesday.  PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

ODE TO ‘JOEY’ Whistleblower Rhodora Alvarez (left), who used the alias Joey in The Manila Times expose, gestures during her presentation before the Senate blue ribbon committee on Wednesday.
PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

Whistleblower tells Senate how chopper firm got away with defects

A Philippine Air Force (PAF) general who headed a technical team in charge of ensuring the quality of Huey helicopters acquired under the military’s modernization program was allegedly offered a US visa and job for his brother abroad, senators investigating the P1.2-billion project were told onWednesday.

At the resumption of the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing, Rhodora Alvarez, who claims to have coordinated the deal between the Department of National Defense and the North American joint venture that was awarded the contract to supply 21 combat utility helicopters for the Air Force, said officials were aware of defects in the deal and the aircraft that were delivered.

Alvarez is the principal source of The Manila Times series that uncovered the alleged anomalies behind the acquisition of the helicopters from the Rice Aircraft Services Inc and Eagle Copters Ltd.


Alvarez, who works at the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), was the source who was code-named “Joey” in The Times report. It was her first time to appear before the blue ribbon committee where she came face to face with defense and military officials whom she claims were involved in the alleged anomaly.

Alvarez narrated to the senators how she got involved in the transaction.

She said she had met a certain Tak Nguyen whom she claimed approached her for help in getting BIR clearance for Rice Aircraft Services Inc (RASI).

It was Nguyen, according to Alvarez, who told her about the difficulties RASI was facing in dealing with the government as it was then trying to secure the P1.2-billion contract under the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization program. Through time, she ended up being the “coordinator” of the project from negotiations stage up to initial delivery of the helicopters.

In her initial presentation, Alvarez gave a bird’s eye view how technical details of the bid were tailor-fitted to favor RASI to enable it to supply UH-1D helicopters instead of the UH-1H model as what was originally planned.

She said Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo and Patrick Velez, Defense assistant secretary for acquisition, installation and materials, were allegedly aware of the contract violations and were the ones advising RASI how to cure the defects or skirt certain government regulations.

It was then that Alvarez accused PAF Brig. Gen. Conrado Parra, who headed the Department of National Defense (DND) technical working group, of allowing RASI to get away with its shortcomings in exchange for helping his brother and his family to secure a US visa and a job in the United States.

Parra, who was also at the hearing, vehemently denied the allegations, saying his brother has been in the US for 13 years and is not in any way connected with RASI.

Before Alvarez could go further with her presentation, Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee, decided to temporarily suspend the hearing and set another date to further hear her testimony and give Defense officials the chance to answer the allegations.

Sen. Jose Victor Ejercito, who authored a resolution calling for the probe, also asked Alvarez to submit a sworn statement containing all her allegations.

In the same hearing, Undersecretary Manalo made a presentation where he briefed senators about the procurement process for the 21 refurbished UH-1D helicopters that started in 2012.

During the first bidding, there were seven bidders who expressed intent to participate but only two submitted required documents including RASI.

The first bidding was declared a failure after RASI was disqualified for not submitting basic documentary requirements.

The DND then called for a second bidding and RASI participated in the process but was disqualified once again for reportedly submitting spurious documents.

The US-based firm was again disqualified the third time even after forming a joint venture with Eagle Copters, Ltd. Also for its failure to submit documentary requirements.

The DND after three failed biddings then went into negotiated bidding with the joint venture of RASI and Eagle Copters, and awarded the contract despite the venture being disqualified earlier.

Ejercito asked why the DND still selected RASI and its partner even after having been disqualified three times.

“I find it hard to comprehend why despite being disqualified from the bidding three times, RASI still managed to get the contract,” he said.

Ejercito pointed out that instead of being blacklisted for submitting fake documents during the previous bidding process, it seemed that RASI was rewarded after the DND decided to award the contract to the joint venture.

Senator Francis Escudero said someone should be held responsible for the chopper deal because it was clear that there is negligence.

Escudero also asked DND Assistant Secretary Velez to explain why they proceeded with the bidding despite being unaware if the helicopter units they needed were available or if there were suppliers that could meet the supply contract requirement, particularly the 45-day delivery period.

“Why did it have to take three failed biddings before you knew and realized that it will take any supplier 180 days to deliver the items? Isn’t that supposed to be stock knowledge on your part, isn’t that a basic requirement before you put something up for bidding, that you know what’s out there, instead of getting your information from the suppliers themselves?” the senator asked.

Responding to Escudero’s question, Velez said the 45-day delivery period was not something that the bids and awards committee came up with, noting that it was part of the senior leaders conference based on assessment by a team that conducted the reexamination of four different companies.

Credibility
Guingona, in an interview after the hearing, refused to say if he finds Alvarez as a credible witness, but said he is convinced that she knows what she is talking about.

“If you noticed, she knows a lot of details, even the size of fuel tanks and other technical terms. So that might be one indication that she knows at least what she’s talking about,” he said.

The senator added that Alvarez just started giving her testimony and is yet to submit her affidavit and it is too early to measure her credibility.

Manalo tried to discredit the whistleblower by insisting that Alvarez has a personal motive in coming out with her allegations.|

Guigona, meanwhile. said his committee will ask the Department of Justice if Alvarez can be provisionally included in the Witness Protection Program (WPP) over concerns about her safety.

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20 Comments

  1. What king of modernization we are looking for?
    UH-1D is earlier version of the old Vietnam vintage UH-1H.
    General Manalo knows this for he himself is a chopper pilot of the PAF.
    He should be the first one to yell against acquiring this older version unless otherwise he is commissioned by “TAGASUNDO”!

  2. Braincleaner on

    …This is what is happening in the US sponsored Aquino III administration while China is preparing ro seized the Pag Asa Reef! While preparing to expand Malaysia’s encroachment in Philippine terrority through the BBL!

  3. Michael G. Logico on

    Ok. This has to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. No private company holds sway over the issuance of US Visas. This is not only an insult to BGen Parra but also an insult to the US Consulate for alluding that they were used as a instrument of bribery.

    REPLY
    Ha ha ha ha ha!

  4. I am not sure what to make of this investigation. Will it end up with the resource people in jail or just destroyed? It looks like Rhodora Alvarez will be spared. Who will be white washed?

  5. FIRED MANALO so that he will no longer use his connection to get rid of this anomaly. HE IS A BIG LIAR, I could attest to that and he knows how to manipulate everybody and everything to get what he wants. DISCREDIT ALVAREZ THAT IS THE STYLE NA BULOK OF MANALO. FIGHT ALVAREZ AND TELL THE TRUTH TO THE WHOLE NATION. Petition po buong sambayanan tanggalin sa pwesto si Manalo coz he is already retired and give that position sa mga di pa retired at deserving. Mayroon po bang dahilan para siya ay manatili sa puesto. WHY?
    Ginagamit po niya ang kanyang pagiging undersecretary ng national defense and connection niya kay PINOY. AT sa lahat ng bagay kahit sa pananakot sa mga simple at maliit na tao. TANGGALIN SI MANALO AND PRESERVE THE RECORD OF THIS ANOMALY. SAKLOLO SA MGA CONCERNED CITIZENS TO PUT THINGS STRAIGHT.

    • gilbert labiaga on

      Kaunti lang ang honest sa gobierno. Pinoy is honest past leaders have shady c haracters . The next President must be like Mr. Aquino. Binay if elected will destroy all that was achieved Very dangerous love your country your children their future.

  6. It does show once again how every single top official in this country is corrupt. They all want their slice of the cake. & as usual they all say the person informing on them has a personal axe to grind. Its called using smoke & mirrors. They want to distract you from the evidence, & in this case the evidence starts with a company that used forged documents & was 3 times disqualified from bidding. 3 times yet still got the contract. Now the defence how to answer that, easy blow smoke & erect mirrors. Move away from the evidence & say something else. But this committee is to wise for this, they have limited time & soon these corrupt people will be in jail, the sooner the better for me.

  7. Ginguna and Escudero are planning to be washing machines here, one is afraid. As usual suspicions are afoot that PNoy and his allies will white-wash this issue because this will be another big slap to the :”tuwid na daan” slogan.

    • tama ang hinala mo k aibigan. white wash ito. do not for one second believe what chizwiz and go na are saying. look at the trend, what they say and what they do are two different animals. pag dating ng botohan, pabor kay boy sisi ang boto nila. tandaan natin na ang involved dito sa chopper deal na ito ay isa sa pinaka dilaw na opisyal ng yellow cult, si voltaire. isang untouchable sa mga kkk.

  8. Primer Pagunuran on

    Shouldn’t the buck in such a deal like this one stop at the secretary himself?

  9. Tita Boluso-Rimando on

    Yet another one under the Daang Matuwid administration. When wil we ever see a straight path?

  10. Unless, I’m mistaken, this news has been around for quite sometime and it appears no investigation from the ombudsman nor from the DOJ has been heard to be ongoing! Is this a show of selective justice!

  11. Rosauro Feliciano on

    The culture of corruption is so deep in our nation. If I were the President of this country I will immediately put under arrest all those who are clearly involved in the anomaly whether they are my relatives or closest friends. Yes the Philippines is a country of laws but many of our lawyers can turn black into white and this is the barrier of our progress. I think we better go after those crooks who make their living like leaches in our society through Ala Duterte management style.

    • Coloma would probably say that President Noynoy is doing a Binay to the “Huey/RASI” generals…. waiting for delikadeza.

    • jose luis hierbas on

      How could you follow the matuwid na daan na mismo ang main road or the highway is crooked due to many holes. You better sleep now and wake up in 2016 election so road potholes already filled up with good materials. The country is very sick due to bad leadership. with the present leadership almost all gov’t. moves are failures. From the early part as HK tourist hostage crises-palpak; earthquake aid to victims-palpak; preparations for incoming super typhoon Haiyan-palpak; Actions on after typhoon Yolanda-palpak; Int’l. donations distributions by gov’t.-palpak; Reconstructions on Yolanda-palpak; etc.