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Parañaque City Mayor Florencio Bernabe, Jr. (second from left) is awarded a water-themed painting by Artist Ivan Acuña; the MWSI Special Partnership Award; and a plaque of recognition from Maynilad officials (from left) President and CEO Victorico P. Vargas, Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan, Chief Operations Officer Herbert M. Consunji and Chief Finance Officer Randolph T. Estrellado during the 5th Anniversary Celebrations of the Maynilad Water Services Inc. which was held recently at the SM Mall of Asia. The Special Partnership Award was given in recognition of the contribution of the Parañaque City Government and Mayor Jun Bernabe for the continued expansion of MWSI water services in the city. (Photo By: Jun Budlat)
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PIA Press Release
Saturday, July 23, 2011

PNP SAF pilot in hot water

MANILA, July 23 (PIA) -- A ranking PNP Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) pilot who reportedly flew one of the two controversial police choppers for members of the former First Family is in hot water for allegedly keeping secret the aircrafts’ real physical condition.

Worse, police Superintendent Claudio DS Gaspar Jr., a pilot and member of the PNP SAF Air Unit, even acted as one of the 16 members of the PNP Inspection Team who certified that the two used helicopters bought by the PNP in September 24, 2009 were brand new.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo said he has received information that Gaspar was one of the pilots who was tapped to fly one of the choppers in question and ferry the members of the Macapagal-Arroyo family to and from various destinations in the country.

“I got information that Col. Gaspar was one of the pilots who flew one of the PNP choppers for the Arroyos, particularly Mikey Arroyo, while the two aircrafts were virtually under former First Family’s beck and call,” the DILG chief said.

The sad part, Robredo said, is that Gaspar was even appointed by the PNP BAC officials at that time as member of the PNP Inspecting Team that signed and vouched that the two refurbished police choppers were brand new.

Asked to comment on the whereabouts of Col. Gaspar, the DILG chief said he has asked one of his men to look for and talk with the police officer but was informed he was working for his early retirement from the service.

“I was told that Col. Gaspar is currently working for the approval of his papers for early retirement. I have asked my staff at Napolcom (National Police Commission) to hold his papers in abeyance until he has cleared his name in the controversy he is in,” Robredo said.

At least 27 police officers have been implicated in the alleged irregularity, and they include the seven members of PNP bids and awards panel chaired by now retired PNP Deputy Director General Jefferson Soriano.

The Soriano-led PNP BAC during the incumbency of former PNP chief Jesus Verzosa was also implicated in the alleged anomalous purchase of P131 million worth of unserviceable rubber boats and outboard motors, the alleged ghost repair of 30 police armored personnel (APCs) carriers worth P300 million, the purchase of allegedly overpriced patrol boats, bullet proof vests, among others.

In the case of the PNP choppers, the four members of inspection and acceptance committee, one of which is a BAC member, was chaired by Chief Supt. George Q. Piano and the rest are the 16 members of the technical inspection team, one of whom is Gaspar.

The PNP originally bought three choppers for P104.9 million, one of which turned out to be real brand new with a 9.9 hours flying time, while the two others both have an average flying time of 500 hours before they were received by the PNP SAF Air Unit on September 24, 2009.

The two Robinson R44 Raven 1 model choppers (with body number RP-4375 and RP 4250) were previously registered to the Asian Spirit, Inc. which leased them to Lion Air, Inc. in 2004.

The PNP is still ascertaining how the Manila Aerospace Products Trading (MAPTRA) owned by one Hilario “Larry” De Vera, without showing proof of ownership of the two choppers, managed to sell the refurbished aircrafts to the PNP without undergoing scrutiny. (DILG/RJB/JCP-PIA NCR)

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