Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Google search by PNoy scuttled P408-M rifle deal

source: interaksyon.com

MANILA, Philippines - A Google search by President Aquino helped scuttle a controversial procurement order for P408-million worth of reportedly overpriced assault rifles for the National Police, the President told media at the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Conference.

"Di ba, parang 150,000 (pesos per rifle) 'yung dati bago kami pumasok, naging 119 (thousand pesos). Nakuha nila 80 (thousand pesos). So kung medyo nagmamadali ka, 'wow nakatipid tayo talaga dito.'" Aquino told Filipino reporters covering APEC. A partial transcript of the press conference has been posted on the Malacanang website. "Ngayon, aminin ko na talagang sabi ko, 'Ganoon pa kaya ang presyo nito?' Nag-Google search ako ngayon, at doon ko nga nakitang ang daming below 1,000 dollars, apparently. So ‘yung mabalik kayo—bakit kako 80,000 pesos ’yung conversion nung 1,000 dollars. Doon nag-umpisa ‘yon."

(It was at P150,000 [per rifle] before we entered the picture. It came down to P119,000. They eventually got it at P80,000. If you were in a rush, you'd be, like, 'Wow. We're saving a lot here.' But I admit: I asked myself, 'Could this still be the real price?' I did a Google search, and I it was there that I saw how so many of these guns were apparently going for less than $1,000. So to go back to... How, I asked, could P80,000 be the equivalent of $1,000. That's where it all started.)

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday clarified that the supposedly anomalous procurement of P408 million worth of assault rifles did not push through.

Deputy Director General Emelito Sarmiento, chief of the PNP Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), who is also the national police's deputy chief of administration, said a failure of bidding was declared last August 31 for the procurement of 1,500 units of M4 assault rifles worth P178 million.

The winning bidder, R. Espineli Trading, reportedly failed to meet documentary requirements particularly receipts of authentication and certification from the Insurance Commission. And because there was no other bidder, the bidding was declared a failure and the procurement was temporarily stopped.

The procurement of another batch of 1,800 units of M4 rifles worth P230 million was suspended after it was discovered that there was a lower price available in the market.

The PNP's statement came amid an ABS-CBN News report that the late Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo was conducting an investigation into the alleged anomalous procurement deals in the PNP involving DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno.

The M4 assault rifles were intended for the PNP's elite unit, the Special Action Force. The purchase was supposed to fill up the shortage of long firearms within the PNP, which is only 60-percent filled at this time.

In the ABS-CBN report, it was stated that Puno with three others went to Israel with the head of R. Espineli, the sole bidder in the gun deal. After that, only R. Espineli entered and won the assault rifle deal.

Sarmiento said the PNP was not aware of Puno's trip to Israel and that the PNP-BAC was "independent" from Puno.

"The deal did not materialize because the procurement for 1,500 unitsfailed due to non-compliance with documentary requirements then theprocurement for 1,800 units was suspended because accordingly therewas a lower price available in the market," Sarmiento said.


Sarmiento, however, confirmed that the procurement for M4 rifles wassuspended because Robredo said it was overpriced. It was later onstated by President Benigno Aquino III that he was the one whodiscovered it was overpriced.

Sarmiento said the secretariat of the BAC received a phone call fromRobredo ordering them to stop the procurement process. The call camewhen the BAC was about to disqualify R. Espineli from the biddingprocess, Sarmiento claimed.

"So that's moot and academic," he added.

The PNP then suspended the second batch of procurement for 1,800 units of M4 rifles worth P213 million. The PNP is currently in the process of canvassing for cheaper assault rifles.

Sarmiento bewailed the attacks on the PNP.

"We're always the subject of ugly speculations. We've been very transparent in both the pistol procurement and the rifle procurement.In fact, in our previous procurement deals, we've learned the hard wayat the expense of our predecessors. We've learned our lesson," he said.

source: interaksyon.com

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