Palace: Austrian firetruck deal will proceed
Abella issued the statement after individuals opposed to the alleged overpriced supply contract with Rosenbauer International AG – the subject of a petition before the Supreme Court – renewed calls to the government to scrap it.
"The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) firetruck deal will proceed," Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement on Thursday, April 20.
"It is a perfected contract and there is no temporary restraining order (TRO) that prevents its implementation," Abella added, echoing the rationale provided by Sueno himself when he defended the implementation of the supply contract under his watch.
Asked if the Palace is intervening in the implementation of the contract given President Rodrigo Duterte's concerns about it, Abella said he has no information, so far, on any such moves.
"None at this stage. None that has reached my desk at this stage," he said during a news briefing earlier that day.
However, Duterte's spokesman is confident the relevant agencies are working on the issue.
"I’m sure they are taking the appropriate actions. But it has not reached my desk at this stage," he said.
The firetruck deal was among the issues raised by President Rodrigo Duterte against Sueno. (READ: INSIDE STORY: How Duterte fired DILG chief Sueno)
The deal was entered into during the administration of then President Benigno Aquino III. It was sealed when Jesse Robredo was interior secretary, and the first batch of fire trucks arrived when Manuel Roxas II took over the DILG.
A week before Duterte assumed office, former Abakada representative Jonathan dela Cruz filed a petition before the Supreme Court, alleging that the firetrucks deal was grossly disadvantageous to the government and unconstitutional.
Only the other day, April 19, Duterte again ranted about the contract.
"At sabi ko bakit pumunta doon to sign, to buy it, fire truck worth P18 million? Putang ina, anong klaseng sunog ‘yan? We’ll buy it at P7, 8 [million]. That’s the running price now over a fire truck made in Japan," Duterte said at the launch of Cine Lokal in Pasay City.
(I said, why did he have to go there to sign, to buy it, fire truck worth P18 million? Son of a bitch, what kind of fire is that? We'll buy it at P7, 8 million. That's the running price now over a fire truck made in Japan.)
Sueno, had repeatedly denied any involvement in corrupt activities throughout his career as a public official, and especially as a member of the Duterte Cabinet. (READ: Thank you, Mr President, but 'I am not corrupt'). – Rappler.com