Senate probe sought into PNP’s P1.89-B Mahindra purchase

Camille Elemia
Senator Grace Poe, who called for the probe, says former interior secretary Mar Roxas will be invited to the hearing

PROBE. The Senate is set to probe the Philippine National Police's P1.8 billion purchase of 2,054 Mahindra vehicles in 2015.

MANILA, Philippines – A senator is seeking a Senate probe into the Philippine National Police’s P1.89 billion purchase of over 2,000 Mahindra patrol vehicles.

Senator Grace Poe filed Senate Bill 777 on July 3, directing the Senate blue ribbon committee, chaired by Senator Richard Gordon, to conduct the probe. (READ: What went wrong: PNP’s P1.89-B Mahindra vehicles purchase)

The call stemmed from the Commission on Audit’s 2017 report questioning the purchase of 1,656 Mahindra Enforcer and 398 Mahindra Scorpio vehicles in 2015. COA said the vehicles were purchased without conducting any operations needs assessment.

“The COA report validates concerns raised way back in 2014, during which it was reported that the terms of reference for the purchase were modified to eliminate other bidders, and that Mahindra was not even qualified in the first place due to their lack of service centers,” Poe said in her resolution.

“Public funds and resources ultimately belong to the people, and the government should thus be judicious in its use in order to avoid wastage. All forms of government misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance, especially with regard to government funds, must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” she said.

Poe, in an earlier radio interview, said former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and former PNP chief Alan Purisima would be invited to the probe. Roxas resigned from the DILG in August 2015.

Poe and Roxas both ran for president in 2016, sparking the bitter feud between them. They lost to then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

“Ewan ko kung sino ang common denominator ng DOTC at ng DILG na para bang napapaboran ang ibang tao na wala naman talagang kapabilidad na tumugon sa mga pangangailangan na makakabuti para sa mga ahensya,” Poe earlier said over dzMM, in an apparent reference to Roxas, who also headed the Department of Transportation.

(I don’t know who the common denominator of DOTC and DILG is. It’s like they are both favoring people who have no capability to respond to the needs of the agency.)

The COA report said the PNP skipped an “operations needs assessment” – a step the auditing body said is an “essential task in procurement planning.”

An “operations needs assessment” procedure is essentially auditing the needs of the PNP. This step would ensure that any spending would respond to a need.

The COA pointed out that the PNP did not ask local police stations what they needed before writing a recommendation to the Department of Budget and Management. Instead, COA said, the PNP transmitted minimum requirements prescribed by the National Police Commission (Napolcom).

The standards set by the Napolcom, COA said, were too low, and “appeared to have no reasonable basis as such would neither upgrade nor improve the agency’s current inventory of patrol vehicles.” – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com