Philippine National Police chief Lieutenant General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa yesterday said he will abide by President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to remove the procurement power of the PNP amid the alleged overpricing of speed guns.
“The Philippine National Police under Officer-in-Charge Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa respects and abides by the decision of the President to remove procurement of equipment as one of our administrative functions. We will endeavor to work this out in accord with our own procurement rules and systems specified by law,” said PNP spokesman Brigadier General Bernard M. Banac.
Banac said Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año has asked the PNP to officially explain the alleged overpriced speed guns.
“The SILG has asked the PNP for an explanation on the supposed overpriced speed guns and the PNP has already submitted its explanation. We leave it now to the President to consider our explanation,” Banac said.
He maintained that the PNP’s “best practices” in procurement transactions over the past three years of the Duterte administration has resulted in huge savings for the government and improved operational capacity of PNP units which are now in possession of much better mission-essential tools, mobile assets and resources.
Banac explained that the reported procurement of “overpriced” speed guns was just a “misunderstanding” and was the result of a hastily-made proposal.
According to Banac, the item that the PNP had wanted to procure was a micro-digital camera laser system -- which costs about P950,000 each and not a speed gun.
He pointed out that it was only a proposal made during the joint AFP-PNP command conference with President Duterte in Malacañang last week and no procurement has been made yet as it still has to undergo vetting and bidding.
“Hindi pa final ‘yung proposal na nai-present nang maaga at nang mabilisan. Masasabi natin na hilaw pa ‘yung presentation at ‘yun lamang, sa pagmamadali, nailabas ng PNP at nai-present kaagad sa Pangulo at ito ay naging dahilan ng pagkakaroon ng misunderstanding,” Banac said.
He stressed there is no overpricing since what the PNP presented was only a plan or a “wish list” subject for approval by the President.
“Nabigla rin tayo noong agad na inaprubahan ng Pangulo na hindi pa nga handa ‘yung ating procurement plan. Ganunpaman, humihingi tayo ng paumanhin sa ating Pangulo at nagdulot ito ng misunderstanding,” Banac said.
“We assure the public that we will never allow corruption in the PNP.
“The PNP has a very good record of procurement for the last 3 years with absorptive capacity of 98 percent with no protests from proponents,” the official said.
Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson yesterday expressed support for the President’s decision.
“Nag-improve ang greed? Nag-evolve na ang greed sa ultra-greed. Kailangan ma-determine ni Interior Sec (Eduardo) Año ang timeframe na nire-refer ng Pangulo sa overpricing na sobra-sobra. Hindi lang heads should roll. Some people should really go to jail,” said Lacson.
Lacson said the President has always been generous to the PNP when it comes to support, equipment, salary, and allowances.
“Lahat binigay so we cannot also blame the President to feel that way. Kung may ganoong misbehavior when it involves public funds, dapat lang talaga alisin ang authority,” he said.
On Monday, Duterte expressed outrage over potential overpricing in the radar speed guns project as he announced that Año will now be in charge of the procurement on behalf of the PNP.
He said a radar speed gun, which is used to catch speeding drivers, only costs P10,000 in his hometown Davao City while the PNP proposed a budget of P950,000 for each item.
He said it was the intelligence officials who notified him of the PNP’s estimate after the joint command conference in Malacañang on January 7.
Lacson stressed that investigation should be conducted and those responsible for the overpricing should go to jail.
“I always focus on punitive steps, kasi ang preventive mukhang di na nagwo-work, ang constant reminders. Dapat ipakita na kung may ganyan dapat talagang makulong kasi yan ang deterrent. Hanggang walang nakikitang nakukulong sasabihin nila kaya namang malusutan,” he said.
“Dapat, it should be incumbent upon Sec. Año na gumawa ng investigation and find out who are responsible. Kasi remember, we’re giving them tens of billions of pesos lalo sa enhancement fund nila. Malaki yan. That’s P2B a year. And aabot ng P10B yan, multi-year procurement yan. Tama lang yan, tama lang na i-withdraw hanggang hindi naimbestigahan nang maayos,” the senator said.
With Marlon Purificacion