THE whistleblower in the “defective” P1.2-billion helicopter deal between the Department of National Defense (DND) and a foreign aircraft supplier is raring to blow the lid off the allegedly onerous contract and name top officials who either got or were “promised” huge kickbacks from the deal, involving the supply of 21 refurbished “Hueys.”
“Joey,” a source of The Manila Times who has provided the paper with voluminous documents showing discrepancies and other “violations” of the P1.2-billion supply contract, was meeting a ranking official of Congress on Tuesday to hand over digital copies of the “evidence.”
In an interview, he said he will bare all, including disclosure on the “5-12 percent” kickbacks that allegedly went into the pockets of some unscrupulous Defense officials who were involved in negotiations with Rice Aircraft Services Inc. (RASI) and its partner, Eagle Copters Ltd of Canada, for the supply of 21 UH-1 helicopters.
“I will disclose all these in an affidavit which I am preparing. I am willing to testify in any credible investigative body about what I know about this deal. I am doing this for the country and not for anything else. I know this is hard but this thing must be stopped for the sake of our pilots and our Armed Forces,” according to “Joey.”
During the meeting with a lawmaker, who earlier vowed to call for an inquiry into the matter, the whistleblower said he would ask for “immunity and protection.” “Even if the Ombudsman would ask me to share what I know, I will. But I will request protection from them and Congress for my family,” the source said.
“Joey” requested that his real identity be kept secret until the affidavit has been signed.
To give The Times a glimpse of the extent of his involvement in the controversial chopper deal, the whistleblower said he was “neck-deep” in it.
“The issue on commissions is a matter of personal knowledge. The DND [Department of national Defense] official even discussed it with me,”The Times source added.
“Joey” said he will reveal the identities of the DND officials soon, including the former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) official who acted as “agent” for the helicopter supplier.
The informant claimed that RASI committed “5 percent” of the contract price as the AFP official’s commission. Another “7 percent” was promised to be given to a higher DND official upon conclusion of the project.
The source, however, doubted that the 7 percent commission would actually go to the “higher” DND official, who is known to be “straight.”
“When [subordinate DND official]told me that [higher DND official]is getting 7 percent, I really doubted it,” “Joey” said. “You can reveal their names once the affidavit is okay,” he added.
One of the officials was key to RASI bagging the P1.2-billion supply contract because Robert Rice, the president of the aircraft firm, had dealings with him in the past. In one transaction, the informant alleged that money was wire-transferred to the bank account of the DND official, who was then serving in one of the branches of the Philippine military.
“Rice even told me that he gave cash amounting to $500,000 to [the official],” “Joey” said. “This can be checked through the AMLC [Anti-Money Laundering Council],” she added.
The previous deal also involved the supply of a helicopter.
Meanwhile, the informant alleged that RASI should have been “blacklisted” as early as the second bidding for the chopper project after Defense officials discovered that the company “faked” some of the documents it submitted to pre-qualify, including a supposed contract with the Tunisian armed forces.
Government inspectors in 2013 found out that RASI violated the terms of the bid when it “lied” about having “completed” the Tunisian supply contract when, in fact, the project was left unfinished and the company remained unpaid.
“Joey” also provided The Times copies of documents pertaining to the supposed Tunisian deal, including an exchange of emails between a representative of RASI and a local military inspector who gave the company “tips” on how to go about the “Tunisian problem.”
The Times withheld publication of the email exchanges as it may be contrary to law.
“Joey” said he would subject the matter to the perusal of future investigators.