10 cops fired in Arroyo chopper case
MANILA, Philippines – Ten police officers were fired and charged with graft for their role in the police purchase of two helicopters allegedly owned by then president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's husband, the government said Saturday.
They are accused of helping Jose Miguel Arroyo defraud the government out of P34.63 million ($820,000) for the 2009 and 2010 deals.
The 10 officers, eight of them of senior rank, and a civilian employee of the Philippine National Police were dismissed from the service on Friday, national police spokesman Senior Superintendent Generoso Cerbo said.
Arroyo's husband, the marketing agent of the helicopter manufacturer's local distributor, and the officers were accused of colluding to pass off as brand-new two used Robinson R44 Raven aircraft that were sold to the police.
The police force also acquired a third Raven helicopter from the same distributor, paying a total of 104.98 million pesos for all three.
Government investigators were called in after the Senate held a public inquiry into the deal last year, in which the local distributor's president testified that Arroyo's husband had once owned the helicopters and orchestrated the deal.
The distributor, Archibald Po, said Jose Miguel Arroyo had bought five helicopters from him in 2003 and later instructed Po in 2006 to buy two of them back for a high price after using them for his wife's 2004 election campaign.
The two helicopters were later sold to the local distributor's marketing agent, which resold them to the Philippine police along with a third helicopter from the same manufacturer.
Po testified that he delivered $700,000 to Jose Miguel Arroyo as payment for the two helicopters.
Jose Miguel Arroyo has denied ever owning them.
He and the other defendants, who are all out on bail, could be jailed for up to 10 years if found guilty by the anti-graft court.
The charges were filed by a special anti-graft prosecutor earlier this month.
Former president Arroyo was arrested in November, less than five months after stepping down from nearly 10 years in power.
She is now detained at a military hospital while awaiting trial on two separates charges of vote rigging and corruption. She denies both charges.
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