MANILA (Mabuhay) — The officials of a US-based supplier that won the P1.2-billion contract for the purchase of refurbished helicopters exposed at a Senate hearing on Tuesday an alleged extortion try by a Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) employee, who allegedly negotiated the contract with the Department of National Defense.
During the continuation of the hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee, Matthew Rice, project manager of Rice Aircraft Services Inc. (Rasi), showed in a slide presentation several emails and billings from its former country representative, Rhodora Alvarez, who was allegedly demanding a 15 percent commission from the deal.
Rice pointed out that in one email, Alvarez specifically demanded 15 percent commission from the company after the awarding of the contract.
“Once we denied her request because 15 percent was too much, she begins to back off and then insisted that she wanted 3 percent for commission,” Rice said.
“As you can see, here’s a billing she sent us in email saying, ‘In view of this, I hereby collect my three percent part of the commission for the awarding of the contract …” he said.
Rice said Alvarez was also demanding a reimbursement for her “personal money” that was supposedly used for the company allegedly amounting to $278, 674 but Rasi again denied the request.
“As you can see , here are some of the emails. ‘Where’s my money? Where is it? Pay, pay, pay. Pay your obligations, pay my commissions…’” he said, reading the emails that allegedly came from the BIR employee.
And when Rasi refused to pay her, Rice said Alvarez allegedly revoked the performance bonds for the contract which they paid for $121,460 and another for$110,500after it expired.
He said Alvarez also threatened the Filipino crew of Rasi in the Philippines with tax evasion charges if they report for work.
“So none of them would work because Ms. Alvarez wanted her money which we would not send her,” he said.
“We tried desperately to get the workers back and she kept denying us so we said how do we get our guys back to build our helicopters again and she said pay me the negative balance…”
He said this was the reason why there was a delay in the delivery of the helicopters.
“We couldn’t assemble helicopters and this is what caused the delay in our delivery,” Rice said.
From December 2013 to October 2014, Rice said the company sent Alvarez a total of $410,945 for operation expenses and purchases related to the delivery of the helicopter.
And when Rasi demanded Alvarez to account for the funds, she could not provide them with invoices and receipts, Rice said.
Rasi then hired two audit firms to look into the funds sent to Alvarez and found out that a total of $210,689 was missing.
Rasi president Robert Rice Jr. said they became “skeptical” of Alvarez’ honesty when they saw on her Facebook account that she was handing out money during the time they were demanding her to account for the funds.
“This is Christmas time and she’s handing out money…” he said. “She has two brand new vehicles, a brand new van and a brand new car in addition to the many vacations she’s taking as well.” (MNS)