WE are saddened—and angry—to learn that yet another group of soldiers died on Wednesday while on board the ‘UH-1D’ military helicopter that was purchased during the corrupt and unlamented administration of Noynoy Aquino.
As CNN Philippines reported, 4 of the 5 Air Force personnel on board were killed just hours after their take-off in Isabela province. The other casualty has been fortunately rescued in time and is now undergoing medical treatment.
Wednesday’s crash was of course not the first time that our purchase back in 2013 of this German “version” of the famous ‘Huey’ helicopters originally produced Bell Helicopters, USA, crashed and killed our Air Force personnel.
Only 3 years ago, in Rizal province, 3 Air Force personnel were also killed when their UH-1D crashed in Tanay, near the camp of the 2ND Infantry Division.
In November 2015, nine more officers of the military were also seriously wounded when yet another UH-1D crashed in Sarangani province while on a “rescue mission” of soldiers battling the NPA.
Earlier that year, in March, then Sen. JV Ejercito has filed a resolution calling for an inquiry on the Aquino government’s decision to purchase at least 21 of these flying coffins thru Rice Aircraft to the tune of more than P1.3 billion.
Sen. JV was prompted to call the probe under Senate Resolution 1238, considering we are being asked to pay for helicopters already more than 50 years old, insultingly, under the AFP’s “modernization program.”
That probe resulted to allegations that the camp of then Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin demanded as much as 15 percent in “kickback” to greenlight the transaction resulting to the filing of graft and corruption charges against them at the Ombudsman in March 2016.
Although Gazmin was subsequently forced to cancel the contract in the light of the scandal that erupted, 7 choppers were still delivered.
And as we are seeing now, they continue to cost us the precious lives of our airmen.
It is also another monument on how the Aquino government protected the corrupt that other than the brave filing by the whistleblower of the complaint for graft and plunder at the Ombudsman, Rhodora Alvarez, nothing, really, has come out of the Senate probe.
And nothing too has come out of Sen. JV’s effort to have another round of Senate probe on the transaction after the Sarangani crash in 2015.
Simply put, Aquino’s Malacañang made sure that those involved, Gazmin, especially, are protected. And with his control of the Senate and the complicity of the media, the probe that Sen. JV had wanted fizzled out for the second time.
Gazmin, of course, would happily join Noynoy and their other confederates in government in retirement after Pres. Duterte won in the 2016 presidential election.
To the dead victims of this corrupt transaction, we can only offer our condolence, they are the ones who have paid the ultimate price in still trying to utilize the helicopters that should be aptly described as ‘Noynoy’s flying coffins’ (or Gazmin’s flying coffins).
The only way to somehow bring comforts to our dead airmen is for the government to ask the Ombudsman to hasten the investigation of the plunder case filed by Alvarez against Gazmin.
It’s been four years now since the complaints were filed, Ombudsman Samuel Martirez.
You may want to dust off the folders, hane?
And yes, it would be better for the Air Force to return the remaining UH-1Ds to the scrapyard where they were originally found and charge this embarrassing episode to “bad experience.”