Sun, Jun 17, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Police officers in Arroyo helicopter case fired, charged

AFP, MANILA

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 Arroyo’s husband, the government said yesterday.

They are accused of helping Jose Miguel Arroyo defraud the government out of 34.63 million pesos (US$820,000) for the 2009 and 2010 deals.

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

Arroyo’s husband, the marketing agent of the helicopter manufacturer’s local distributor, and the officers were accused of colluding to pass off as 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 104.98 million pesos for all three.

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 Arroyo’s husband had once owned the helicopters and orchestrated the deal.

The distributor, Archibald Po, said Jose Miguel Arroyo had bought five helicopters from him in 2003 and later instructed Po in 2006 to buy two of them back at 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.

Arhicbal Po testified that he delivered US$700,000 to Jose Miguel Arroyo as payment for the two helicopters.

Jose Miguel Arroyo has denied ever owning them.

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.

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