Senate allots P11 million to overhaul 2 PNP helicopters
Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - November 24, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has agreed to augment the proposed 2016 budget of the Philippine National Police (PNP) by P11 million in order to refurbish two helicopters purchased in 2009 but have been grounded for several years.

During the hearing on the proposed budget of the Department of the Interior and Local Government yesterday, Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito raised his concern about the PNP having no air assets at all to support its operations across the country.

He said the PNP owned three Robinson R44 helicopters, one of which crashed while the other two were grounded due to a case involving anomalies in their purchase. The case was filed at the Sandiganbayan.

The PNP’s purchase of the helicopters in 2009 was saddled with controversy after it was discovered that they were second-hand and not brand new as intended.

According to the PNP, the Office of the Ombudsman has authorized the PNP to use the two grounded helicopters while the resolution of the case is pending.

But since the two helicopters have been grounded for six years, these cannot be used unless they are overhauled and refurbished.

Based on his research, Ejercito said it would cost around P10 million to overhaul each helicopter.

The PNP said it has an annual allocation in its budget of P9 million for repair and maintenance, which is not enough to cover the overhaul of the two helicopters.

It also gave its own estimate of P18 million to overhaul each helicopter, noting that purchasing a brand new unit would cost P27 million.

Ejercito refuted the estimate given by the PNP, which he said was too high.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said that maybe there was no “SOP,” the informal term used in transactions to refer to kickbacks, in the estimate given by Ejercito.

To finance the overhaul of the two helicopters, Drilon directed the Senate committee on finance to source P11 million in the proposed national budget for 2016 to augment the P9 million budget of the PNP for repair and maintenance.

“Realign a portion of some other item in the 2016 budget to the PNP and place the funds necessary for the repair of these two R44 helicopters,” Drilon said.

The PNP also needs a bigger helicopter model called the Eurocopter for its operations, but Drilon said this would have to be funded in the 2017 national budget.

BUDGET DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT DRILON EJERCITO HELICOPTERS JOSEPH VICTOR EJERCITO MILLION OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE PNP TWO
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