Philippine Star Reports investigation by Congress of Illegal PNP Gun Deal

House seeks probe on P1.1-billion PNP gun license deal 
By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) Updated June 14, 2012 12:00 AM Comments (3) View comments

MANILA, Philippines - The House committee on public order and safety was asked yesterday to look into the P1.1-billion gun license contract awarded by the Philippine National Police (PNP) without public bidding.

In March 2010, then PNP chief Jesus Verzosa and director for logistics Luizo Ticman awarded the 15-year contract to Nanjing Industrial Tools and Equipment Co., represented by its president, Romeo Macapinlac.

In Resolution 2459, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said the transaction violated the law on government procurement since it was done without benefit of public bidding.

“Such a huge project should have been undertaken through public bidding,” he said.

Rodriguez said he could not understand why the PNP under Verzosa and under new PNP chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome allowed the payment of the P150 firearm license fee directly to the contractor and not to Landbank, where the PNP deposits its collections.

He added that the PNP is committing another illegality by allowing such direct payment.

Rodriguez also said that the PNP could earn a lot of money for the treasury if it is the one producing the firearm license card instead of contracting a private company to do it.

He said there are millions of gun licensees, security guards and holders of permits to carry their firearm outside residence (PTCFOR) who pay for license and permit to carry cards.

He noted that in the past, the fee for the card was part of gun license fees, which a license holder paid to Landbank cashiers at the ground floor of the PNP Firearms and Explosives Division in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Like Rodriguez, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo has also expressed doubts on the legality of the PNP-Nanjing deal.

Robredo has reportedly ordered Bartolome to explain why the contract should not be scuttled.

The transaction has also been questioned in the Senate by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who was PNP chief during the Estrada administration.

Rodriguez also suggested that the PNP should consider mailing gun licenses instead of firearms holders going to Camp Crame or PNP regional offices to renew their licenses.

“Once the licensees receive their license cards, all they have to do is go to the nearest Landbank branch and pay the fees,” he said.

He said this system avoids so much inconvenience on the part of millions of firearms licensees. 

Lapses

Bartolome admitted that there were lapses in the P1-billion license card deal for over a 15-year period.

He said he is expecting today a copy of the final report of the technical working group (TWG) on the alleged questionable deal with Nanjing, which will be submitted to Robredo on June 15.

“There might have been lapses in the administrative procedures. But we have found some possible immediate remedy on this. What is important is that we can complete the result of the TWG,” Bartolome said.

Records showed that as per DILG legal office’s computation, Nanjing has been printing an average of 21,818 cards per month for the PNP’s Firearms and Explosives Division (FED) and 20,245 cards per month for the PNP’s Supervisory Office for Security Agencies.

This means that over a period of 15 years, at a cost of P150 for each card, the contract is worth a staggering P1.1357 billion.

Bartolome welcomed the investigation to be conducted by the House of Representatives on the license card deal.

“As far as the P1-billion license fee is concerned, we welcome this development so that we can properly put to a close this issue,” the PNP chief said, adding he learned that Rep. Rodriguez is initiating an investigation to be conducted by the committee on public order and safety.

Earlier, Robredo issued a March 30 deadline to investigate the questionable deal. Bartolome said the PNP was able to comply to the deadline where he mentioned three options.

However, he could not recall the options but promised to submit their final report to the DILG chief on June 15.

According to Bartolome, after the submission of the report last March 30, Robredo met him, Civil Security Group (CSG) director Chief Superintendent Gil Meneses, Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agency (SOSIA) head Chief Superintendent Tomas Rentoy and FED chief Senior Superintendent Raul Petrasanta last April 11.

Although there were lapses, the PNP chief said the deal with Nanjing might not be canceled.

Helicopter mess

Meanwhile, Bartolome said the 12 active police personnel who were linked to the helicopter procurement mess might be removed from the police service as ordered by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Bartolome said even a temporary restraining order (TRO) cannot stop the Ombudsman’s order to dismiss the 12 policemen, including two police generals.

 “According to the Ombudsman resolution, a TRO for this nature cannot stay (the dismissal),” he said.

The policemen were involved in the procurement of three helicopters previously owned by former first gentleman Mike Arroyo, which were passed off as brand new but turned out to be previously owned and were already five years old.

The PNP chief said the PNP Legal Service has received a copy of the Ombudsman’s ruling, which has been forwarded to the office of the Chief Directorial Staff.

– With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Rhodina Villanueva