Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito on Tuesday shrugged off the notion that administration allies led by Senator Teofisto Guingona III would try to “control” the flow of discussion and revelations involving the P1.2 billion helicopter deal scandal that could embroil high officials of the Department of National Defense (DND).
“It’s all right. The important thing is that the probe has finally started,” Ejercito told reporters on Tuesday, referring to the start of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s investigation on the DND’s decision to purchase 21 “refurbished” UH-1D helicopters from Rice Aircraft Services, Inc. (RACI), a private American company, in 2013.
Two months ago, Ejercito filed Senate Resolution 1238 calling for an investigation into the transaction after certain questionable details were exposed in the media.
Among others, it was found out that the transaction violated the country’s Procurement Law (RA 9184), aside from the fact that, out of the eight helicopters initially delivered, none of them have actually flown in an actual combat mission up to now.
Two more bills seeking to unmask the controversy were also filed by Ejercito’s half-brother, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and independent senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero.
The Senate minority has been hoping that, similar to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s decision to form a “sub-committee” to probe the finances of the family of Vice President Jejomar Binay, the committee chair, Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona, would also accede to the formation of another sub-committee to probe the DND scandal now centered on DND Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.
However, it was gathered that Sen. Guingona has decided to personally chair the investigation.
Observers said that this could be a way to ensure that the administration can effectively “minimize” the “damage” that is expected to be inflicted on the administration, as the scandal involves key appointees and trusted officials of Pres. Aquino at the defense establishment.
Guingona, like Pres. Aquino and Senate Pres. Franklin Drilon, are all leading members of the Liberal Party.
Ejercito has already been giving physical protection to the main witness and whistleblower, a certain “Joey”, whom Ejercito intends to present “at the proper time.”
He added that DND’s decision to terminate the contract with RACI was “not an excuse” for the Senate to cancel its probe.
“In fact, the cancellation (of the contract) should give us added reason to investigate,” Ejercito stressed.