A lawyer on Tuesday urged the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to block the “brazen attempt” of some officials to push the allegedly anomalous fire truck deal that prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to dismiss former Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno.
In a letter sent to DILG Officer-in-Charge Catalino Cuy, Leo Romero said that officials of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and the Austrian company Rosenbauer International AG are trying to “countermand the legal position of the DILG and the official directive of the President” on the contract.
Romero served as counsel in a petition filed last year with the Supreme Court (SC) questioning the contract with Rosenbauer International AG. In June 2016, he asked the SC to nullify the government’s P2.8 billion contract for the purchase of the controversial fire trucks.
“Your office, which has administrative supervision and control over BFP, must act with immediate dispatch to prevent any and all acts intended to cause grave and irreparable loss, damage and injury to the paramount interest of the Republic of the Philippines and its people,” Romero said in his letter to Cuy.
A copy of the letter was furnished to the President, along with a copy of Bureau Order Number COM-2017-018 issued by BFP chief Bobby Baruelo on March 17 establishing an Inspection and Acceptance Committee for the 76 units of Rosenbauer TLF 4000 fire trucks.
“Once the fire trucks are accepted, that will trigger the payment process for Rosenbauer,” Romero said in an interview, expressing frustration thta DILG officials are still trying “to pull a fast one to favor the questionable contract.”
“The President has taken action based on a whiff of corruption, but this one involves multiple whiffs of corruption. The President already knows their scheme, yet they are still trying to get away with graft and corruption,” the lawyer added.
Romero informed Cuy that there is a pending petition before the SC assailing the validity of the supply contracts for the purchase of 76 Rosenbauer fire trucks.
He also asked BFP Logistics director and IAC chairman Supt. Jorge Fariñas and committee members Sr. Insp. Le Roy Enriquez, Insp. Ruel Geronimo, Geoffrey Agcambot and Fire Officer 3 Jonathan Alfonso not to follow Baruelo’s order.
Even the Office of the Solicitor General has already filed a motion to withdraw appearance in November as it found the previous administration’s position favoring Rosenbauer as “irreconcilable,” according to Romero.
However, Epimaco Densing 3rd, DILG Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs, said that the payment of the fire truck deal in Vienna, Austria is under a 23-year loan. He added that the contract is a “government to government transaction.”
“Austria has the least corrupt practices in the world. The Austrian government would not allow any corrupt practices if ever [Sueno] committed that,” Densing told reporters.
He said the first batch of fire trucks arrived during the tenure of former DILG secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd.
DILG Undersecretary Jesus Hinlo earlier said that the “prudent” thing to do is to wait for the SC ruling on the case filed by former Abakada Party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz questioning the fire trucks deal.