• Senate Blue ribbon to probe chopper crashes

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    THE Senate committee on accountability of public officers and investigations (blue ribbon) is set to look into the crashing of two combat helicopters that were acquired under the questionable P1.25 billion deal made by the Department of National Defense (DND) during the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.

    Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito filed Senate Resolution 369 asking the proper committee to investigate the incidents to enhance the procurement process and ensure the acquisition of modern military equipment for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

    On May 4, 2017, a UH-ID helicopter of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) with tail number 469 crashed, killing the pilot, Capt. Christian Paul Litan, and crew Staff Sgt. Byron Tolosa and Airman First Class Joseph de Leon and injuring 1stLt. Ceazar Rinas.

    The helicopter went down in Sitio Hilltop, Barangay Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal, during an air to ground and disaster rescue operation training.

    The tragic incident happened six months after another UH-ID Huey helicopter crashed in Malapatan, Sarangani province while on a mission to evacuate injured soldiers.

    The crash that happened on November 7, 2016 wounded nine occupants of the helicopter, including pilots, crew and soldiers.

    The helicopters were purchased by the DND, then under Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, in December 2013 from Rice Aircraft Services Inc. (RASI) and Eagle Copters, Ltd.

    The Manila Times published a series of exclusive stories about the deal based on the revelations of a whistleblower.

    The previous congress investigated the chopper deal amid allegations of irregularity and corruption. A whistleblower, Rhodora Alvarez, who claimed that the contract was “supplier-friendly” and “tailor-fitted” for a favored bidder.

    The writer of the stories, Joel Sy-Egco, is now an undersecretary and is the executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security.

    The DND denied Alvarez’s claim that the helicopter deal was anomalous. But at the height of the Senate investigation, the contract was terminated on March 25, 2015 with only eight units of the 21 units delivered and accepted by the PAF.

    There were reports that despite the termination of the contract and allegations that the helicopters were not airworthy, the DND and AFP accepted the remaining 13 refurbished choppers from RASI.

    “There is a need to scrutinize the supply contracts of our air assets, navy and army weapons and equipment, not only to preserve the integrity of the entire AFP Modernization Program but also to preserve the lives of our military men who deserve better than the ancient and antiquated aircraft procured by the past administration,” Ejercito said in his resolution.

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    1 Comment

    1. dating magna-nakaw din on

      UH-1D Helicopter is utility and gunship helicopter, used extensively by U.S. Forces during Vietnam war, circa 1966-1972. These were made by Bell helicopters and were phased-out in the early 80s, sometime in 1982 and It was then replaced by UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopters, made by Sikorsky. This multi role helicopter serves with U.S. military and Armed Forces of 26 countries worldwide to present day.

      When U.S. military phases out any weapon system, usually because that particular system is no longer productive, breakdowns occurs constantly or requires constant maintenance, and/or have reached its productive years. The manufacturer on the other hand, no longer manufacture repair parts because the user already junked them. These weapon systems normally turned-in to Defense Reutilization agency for accountability, meaning removing these equipment from their book, and these normally tagged as military surplus. The only intended value these chopper would have are scrapped metals, which can be recycled. Defense Reutilization Office try to sell these junk helicopter by lot, such as 100 pieces per lot and through bidding process, normally the highest bidder. The Defense Reutilization office would be very happy to get these junk helicopters out of their lot if somebody will offer to buy these junk choppers at $1.00 a piece. Yes, one dollar a piece just for the sake of formality and the buyer will have the responsibility to take these junk chopper out of their lot.

      How did these junk helicopters ended up with the AFP? They were operational when they delivered these choppers to the AFP, weren’t they? Where did they get the repair parts to repair these disabled helicopters? Did the AFP paid fair price on the purchase of 21 pieces of UH-1D helicopters?

      Here is how it started and a very accurate scenario. It was mentioned earlier that these UH-1D helicopters came from U.S. Defense Reutilization Agency’s junk yard and ready to be scrapped for metals, which is the only value these junk choppers would have. However, a very clever Filipino businessman named Jefferson Antiporda bought 100 pieces of UH-1D helicopters at a total price of One Hundred U.S. Dollars, Jeff’s plan was to make at least 60 good ones, operational to be sold as is, with no warranty to the AFP. This method of repair is called cannibalization, selecting mechanically good choppers and get the repair parts needed from the worst shape. By using this method of refurbishment, Jeft will probably can make 65 good and operational choppers from the 100 he bought next to nothing.

      Now, here is the best and sweetest thing about the deal. At P1.25 Billion pesos that the AFP paid for 21 refurbished UH-1D helicopter and without availability of repair parts and maintenance contract that should normally go with the purchase, Jefferson Antiporda, indeed, made a lot of money. The bottom line is this: The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee should drag every Tom, Dick, and Jerry that were involved in the transaction, grill them until the Senators can see the tears on their eyes and make them as examples, for the whole world to see, that the administration is also involved in rectifying the wrongs that were done during the previous administration. There shall be no doubt that corrupt practices started at the highest levels of the government and it lingered there the whole time during the previous administration.

      emdelacruz.2016@yahoo.com