Apparently, quite a number of President Noynoy’s cronies are still following the trail of the old “crooked path,” particularly at the Department of National Defense (DND).
One crony who is a fixture at Camp Aguinaldo is a contractor called “Jo Magcayle,” who figured in several questionable procurement of defective equipment for the Philippine Army (PA).
Magcayle is reportedly a contractor favored by DND officials in all types of contracts, including the supply of multi-million peso worth of “ready-to-eat” meals for the Army.
In 2010, she is said to have supplied the Army with mortars that turned out to be defective, which resulted in the death of several troopers in Basilan when their mortars failed to fire at the advancing Moro rebels.
Despite supplying the military with defective hardware, “Jo Magcayle” surprisingly has not been disqualified or banned from participating in the bidding for the supply of military equipment.
In 2013, “Jo Magcayle” failed to deliver the much-needed bulletproof vests for Army troopers battling with the loyal supporters of MNLF Commander Nur Misuari during the Zamboanga siege. MNLF snipers killed several soldiers during that weeklong firefight.
The AFP has been demanding for a refund of the money she got for the body undelivered armour, to the tune of over P100 million. However, she reportedly continues to ignore the demands of the General Headquarters or GHQ. Again, she was not given any sanctions by the bids and awards committee.
And last year, she was also involved in the failed bidding for the supply of bulletproof vests for the entire AFP, when her credentials and compliance of documentary requirements were questioned.
To cut the story short, a more deserving contractor won in the bidding.
But guess what, the DND project was scrapped because the funds earmarked for the bulletproof vests were found “missing,” diverted to another project.
This only goes to show that the diversion of public funds, such as the P880 million intended for the shipping of 114 M113 APCs donated by the US government, is common at the DND.
“Jo Magcayle” should be summoned before the Blue Ribbon Committee to explain why she should not be charged in court for delivering defective military equipment, including her failure to deliver much needed hardware for the troops in the war zone.
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Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and his cohorts have found a convenient defense or alibi against an impending Senate inquiry into DND’s anomalous procurement contracts since 2010.
They are saying now that Sen. Chiz Escudero and Sen. JV Ejercito are merely “grandstanding” in pushing for a probe on the DND transactions as part of their 2016 positioning.
Sen. Escudero chairs the Senate Committee on Finance while Sen. Ejercito filed the resolution seeking a Senate investigation into these questionable deals.
Why, these conspirators at Camp Aguinaldo have the guts to accuse the two senators of grandstanding for taking action on the discovery of these DND anomalies.
The purchase of defective UH-1D helicopters and overpriced M113 tanks are but two of many dubious contracts that Gazmin approved.
Instead of giving a flimsy alibi, Gazmin should welcome the Senate investigation as an opportunity to clear his name.
To avoid being labelled as incompetent, the defense secretary must respond to reports alleging that a “son” of his has brokered a number of sweetheart deals that the DND entered into in the past four years.
We would welcome Gazmin’s response or explanation on this issue, which is said to be an “open secret” at Camp Aguinaldo.
The latest of the alleged sweetheart deals is the procurement of 28 overpriced M113 armored personnel carriers (APCs) from Israel for P880 million. It turned out that the M113s were “third-hand,” or used tanks that the United States donated to Belgium, and later sold to Israel.
Gazmin’s son allegedly closed the deal where the DND paid P31.4 million for each of the World War II vintage junks.
The P880 million funds allegedly used for this transaction was originally earmarked for the transportation and refurbishment cost of the 114 M113s donated by the US.
Department of Budget and Management officials must also explain why it allowed the diversion of funds (not a US grant as earlier reported) for this questionable procurement. The money could have been used instead for the shipment of the 114 APCs given free by the US.
The broker who pushed this juicy DND deal must be very influential.
Who would laugh at a kickback of P88 million (10 percent of P880 million)?
I don’t think Sen. Escudero and Sen. Ejercito will see this gross abuse of discretion and technical malversation by DND officials as a laughing matter.