Philippine National Police Chief Alan Purisima’s statement in the Senate hearing the other day, recorded by network news, that he had bought his brand-new Toyota Land Cruiser “Prado” for P1.5 million, could land him in jail – if we had a real rule of law, that is.
He claimed the car dealer from San Fernando, Pampanga gave him a huge discount, that he paid only that much. But that kind of top-of-the-line SUV, according to Toyota Philippines’ published prices, costs P4.5 million.
That’s hardly a discount: the dealer lost P3 million in selling Purisima his SUV for P1.5 million? In effect, that would mean the dealer was willing to forego his net profit along with part of the acquisition cost of the car so that the PNP Chief could enjoy a Prado, as he obviously wasn’t contented with his other four cars, including another Toyota, a P3.2 million Alphard.
I hope Senator Grace Poe, who extracted the statement out of Purisima, proves that she isn’t just trying to improve her popularity ratings by having these hearings, but follows through her discovery, pursuing the next steps and questions, which I highly suspect would mean an open-and-shut case of violation of our anti-graft laws.
Get Purisima to reveal the name of the San Fernando car dealer, if he exists, and require him to submit documents – the deed of sale and LTO registration for his purchase of the Prado, and ask him in the hearing why he effectively gifted the country’s top law enforcer with millions of pesos in discount.
In testifying in the Senate that he bought the car for only that much, and the car dealer was so kind to give him a P3 million discount, Purisima is telling its members and us that we are so stupid to be fooled easily.
A real investigation into Purisima’s Prado, however, could lead to two different accounts of what really happened:
One, Purisima was forced to claim the P1.5 million figure as it was the price he reported in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities, and had wanted to reduce his net worth. If the Prado’s Deed of Sale showed he actually bought it for its current price of P4.5 million, he’s liable for falsifying his SALN.
Second, the Prado was a gift, a bribe for services Purisima gave to the “car dealer” or from whomever he got it. Why else would the car dealer in effect give him P3 million? Oafishly though, he thought he could cover up the bribe, the ownership of the Prado, by reporting in his SALN that he bought it for only P1.5 million. Not in his wildest dreams did he imagine that he would be required to tell that lie in a Senate hearing.
I cant’ remember any recent case (except for that of the Chief Justice, which was, however, a persecution to drive him out of office) in which the wealth of a high official was disclosed in some detail in the Senate, which so far mainly are as follows:
• A 4.7-hectare property in Nueva Ecija, on which is built a huge mansion with a swimming pool;
• Three houses and lots in Caloocan City, a lot in Ilocos Sur province and a condominium unit in Cubao; and
• Other than the Prado, Toyota Hi Lux, a Starex, a Toyota Innova, a Toyota Alphard, a backhoe, and two loaders.
All these he acquired on his salary averaging P100,000 monthly and that of his wife of about P30,000.
Yet, President Aquino’s spokesman defends him as being on “a high moral ground,” and our senators, despite the grilling of Purisima, have not asked the Ombudsman to file a graft case against him, and for Aquino to ask him to go on leave while the case is being investigated.
Records of the Sandiganbayan are replete with accounts of town officials and petty bureaucrats being convicted of having accepted such small bribes, in one case just P5,000 in cash.
In Purisima’s case, the Senate has been, by accident, given the necessary information to pursue a major case of corruption, through which it can send the message to the nation that if this Administration has defaulted on its anti-graft campaign, the Senate wouldn’t shirk back in pursuing an obvious case of graft.
I wonder though, if the Senate was just a bit more independent in 2011, it could have required President Aquino to disclose the deeds of sale for his purchase of a Porsche 911 Carrera and then his disposal of it a few months later because of public outrage.
If there had been a Grace Poe asking Aquino about that purchase, the senator would have also asked the President how he could buy at P4.5 million a high-end sports car known to aficionados as worth P15 million. I bet Aquino would have also claimed, as Purisima would on his Prado, that he was given a huge discount.