human rights in the Philippines

PNP officers fired over chopper scam

Agence France-Presse
PNP fires 10 officers in connection with the chopper scam involving former First Gentleman Jose Miguel 'Mike' Arroyo

MANILA, Philippines — Ten Philippine officers were fired and charged with graft for their role in the police purchase of two helicopters allegedly owned by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s husband, the government said Saturday, June 16.

They are accused of helping former First Gentleman Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo defraud the government of P34.63-M for the 2009 and 2010 deals.

CHOPPER SCAM. The case involving former First Gentleman Jose Miguel 'Mike' Arroyo (in photo) has led to the dismissal of 10 PNP officers. Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II

The 10 officers, 8 of them of senior rank, and a civilian employee of the Philippine National Police were dismissed from the service on Friday, June 15, national police spokesman Senior Superintendent Generoso Cerbo said.

Mr Arroyo, the marketing agent of the helicopter manufacturer’s local distributor, and the officers were accused of colluding to pass off as brand-new two used Robinson R44 Raven aircraft that were sold to the police.

The police force also acquired a third Raven helicopter from the same distributor, paying a total of P104.98-M for all three.

Senate inquiry

Government investigators were called in after the Senate held a public inquiry into the deal last year, in which the local distributor’s president testified that Mr Arroyo had once owned the helicopters and orchestrated the deal.

The distributor, Archibald Po, said Mr Arroyo had bought 5 helicopters from him in 2003 and later instructed Po in 2006 to buy two of them back for a high price after using them for his wife’s 2004 election campaign.

The two helicopters were later sold to the local distributor’s marketing agent, which resold them to the Philippine police along with a third helicopter from the same manufacturer.

Po testified that he delivered $700,000 to Mr Arroyo as payment for the two helicopters.

Mr Arroyo has denied ever owning them.

Sandiganbayan charges

He and the other defendants, who are all out on bail, could be jailed for up to 10 years if found guilty by the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.

The charges were filed by the Ombudsman earlier this month.

Mrs Arroyo was arrested in November, less than 5 months after stepping down from nearly 10 years in power.

She is now detained at a military hospital while awaiting trial on two separates charges of vote rigging and corruption. She denies both charges. — Agence France-Presse