By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Grace Poe said she would call for an investigation on the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) purchase of the P1.89 billion worth of patrol cars in 2015.
Poe, vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, on Monday said she will push for a legislative inquiry into the PNP’s acquisition of patrol vehicles from an Indian car manufacturer after the Commission on Audit (COA) questioned the move.
The COA, in its 2017 annual audit report, flagged the purchase and noted the PNP’s “unsound changes” in the specifications of the type and make of the vehicles which resulted in the ordering of some 2,000 Mahindra vehicles faced with “frequent breakdowns, poor after sales services and limited availability of spare parts.”
Poe, who chaired the Public Order committee in the previous Congress, said the COA’s findings had affirmed her concerns about the PNP’s procurement.
To recall, she wrote to former PNP Director General Alan Purisima in November 2014 requesting details about the purchase as she cited reports that there were companies being favored despite their lack in service centers.
“I expressed serious concerns in 2014 about the way the terms of reference for the PNP patrol jeeps bidding were crafted that apparently were tailored-fit for Mahindra, effectively eliminating all the other more known brands with track record and countrywide presence as far as service centers are concerned from competing,” Poe said in a statement.
“These COA findings validate my concerns to a large extent. I will push for an inquiry to look into these and determine the culpability of the PNP officials, among others,” she added.
Sen. JV Ejercito likewise slammed the PNP for supposedly wasting government funds in acquiring police cars of inferior standards. Ejercito has been vocal about his support for the modernization of the police and military force.
“[The] PNP and AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) with meager resources should acquire vehicles and equipment that are durable and reliable. We cannot afford to waste public funds on vehicles and equipment that are not reliable. Nagtatapon lang tayo ng pondo! Sayang (What a waste of funds!),” he said.
The PNP, in 2015, purchased 1,656 Mahindra Enforcers worth P1.543 billion and 398 Mahindra Scorpio Light Transport Vehicles oworth P349.44 million.
The vehicles were intended for distribution to all PNP units in the country for their anti-crime responses, disaster relief and rescue operations, and patrol.
But the COA said there was “no careful assessment” of the type of vehicle that is appropriate and most suited for emergency situations or hot pursuit operations, as well as the nature and location of crimes, the road conditions, and traffic challenges before the Mahindra vehicles were recommended for purchase.