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MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE 7:02 PM) National Police chief Nicanor Bartolome has signed the P1.2-billion pistol deal, one of the biggest procurement deals entered into by the organization.
PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr. said Bartolome signed the contract Thursday afternoon in the presence of the PNP Command Group and members of the Bids and Awards Committee. The deal with Trust Trade/Glock Asia Pacific for 59,904 units of Glock Gen 4 9 mm pistols is seen to completely fill up the short firearms shortage of the PNP.
Delivery period for the pistols is expected to be completed within 570 days. The first tranche will be delivered within 150 days; the second tranche within 120 days; third tranche within 120 days and the 4th and 5th tranche within 90 days.
With the pistol deal, the PNP also hoped to phase out aging and old revolvers that still remain in the PNP's arsenal.
Earlier, the PNP was mired in controversy following allegations that Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, shortly before his death in a plane crash on August 18, had been quietly investigating procurement deals in the PNP involving Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno.
Rifle deal aborted
Besides the pistol deal, the other controversial deal involved the supposed anomalous procurement of P408 million worth of assault rifles, which did not push through.
Deputy Director General Emelito Sarmiento, chief of the PNP Bids and Awards Committee, said a failure of bidding was declared last August 31 for the procurement of 1,500 units of M4 assault rifles worth P178 million.
The winning bidder, R. Espinelli, reportedly failed to meet documentary requirements. And because there was no other bidder, the bidding was declared a failure and the procurement temporarily stopped.
Another batch of 1,800 units of M4 rifles worth P230 million was suspended after it was discovered that there was a lower price available in the market.
A TV report said Puno with three others went to Israel with the head of R. Espinelli, the sole bidder in the gun deal.
Sarmiento said the PNP was not aware of Puno's trip to Israel and that the PNP BAC was "independent" from Puno.
Bartolome in Senate
Last week, after a hearing at the Senate, PNP Chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome announced he is set to sign on or before September 25, 2012 the P1.2- billion contract for the purchase of 60,000 units of hand guns for the police.
“I have until September 25 to sign the contract, I was given 15 days by law to review (the contract),” Bartolome said after Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago ended the inquiry she called into the role over the PNP of ex-Undersecretary Rico Puno, especially in the bidding process.
Bartolome said the only entity to conduct the bidding process on the supply contract of 59, 904 units of hand guns, bagged by R. Espenelli, the lone bidder, is the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) which cannot be influenced by anyone, not even the former undersecretary.
“The BAC is the one responsible (not Puno), kaya nga baka hindi pa sila nagde-decide and they recommend it to me to resolve,” Bartolome said.
Puno merely observer in bidding
Besides Bartolome, Deputy Director Sarmiento defended Puno from allegations he tried to influence the results of the bidding. Sarmiento said the former DILG official is just an observer in the process, and has no direct participation on it.
“We acknowledged their suggestion and weighed it,” Sarmiento said during the hearing.
But Senator Santiago did not accept Sarmiento’s explanation on Puno’s participation, saying there were indications Puno was a “participating observer.”
Puno in that hearing denied participation in the bidding process, but insisted he was just giving suggestions to the BAC members, and reporting the same to the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, his boss.
“I really gave him (Robredo) the updates on the procurement on the bidding process, As observer, as observer, I suggest to the BAC,” Puno said.
Puno also denied visiting the Espinellli gun factory in Israel but said he went there for a vacation with his family, as approved by Robredo.
“I never visited any gun factory, I was there (Israel) for a vacation which was approved by the secretary after I applied for a vacation leave,” Puno told the committee.
Meanwhile, Sarmiento assured the committee the bidding was aboveboard and the BAC had been very careful, having learned hard lessons from previous anomalies for which some PNP officials are facing criminal and administrative charges.