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City Hall bought phony rifles – manufacturer


By Francis Allan L. Angelo


A US-based manufacturer said the five rifles bought by the Iloilo City government for the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team might be fakes, according to a city councilor.


Councilor Perla Zulueta said she received transcripts of email exchanges between her undisclosed source and a certain George W. Holloway who is in-charge of Law Enforcement and Government Sales of gun manufacturer Olympic Arms, Inc.


Zulueta said the emails indicate that the supposed K23B “Stubby” rifles acquired to beef up the SWAT have different specifications from what Olympic Arms manufacture and sell.


Holloway said a factory K23B would have a 1×7 twist barrel. The rifles the City Government bought from R. Espineli Trading had 1×9 twist barrel.


“If they are in fact 1×9 (twist barrel) they are fake,” Holloway said in his email message dated December 6, 2008.


A barrel twist of 1×7, which is also similar to “1 in 7”, means a projectile traveling down the barrel rotates one complete turn around its own axis in 7 inches. The twist barrel stabilizes the bullet when fired from a gun.


Holloway’s statement backs the contention of Zulueta that the SWAT rifles did not follow Olympic Arms specifications.


“The discrepancies lie on the different twist barrel which is 1×7 in the original firearm while the rifles bought by the City Government had 1×9. The rifles must be full automatic while the fakes are semi-automatic, Zulueta said.


As regards the purchase and export of firearms from Olympic Arms to the Philippines, Holloway said orders must be made through an export company like ETSS or World Wide Sports.


“They are able to handle the export/import of these weapons and are on file with us as dealers. We are not able to directly send product to the PI (Philippine Islands) because of the policies of the US State Department,” Holloway said.


The Olympic Arms executive said all firearms exported from the US are full automatic unlike the ones purchased by City Hall which are semi-automatic.


The serial numbers of genuine Olympic Arms items, Holloway said, have a “DE # # # # serial number range.”


“There may possibly some that have a ‘E # # # # number range’, but anything more than four numbers is for sure a fake,” Holloway added in another email dated December 10.


Zulueta said the serial number is another indication that the rifles purchased by City Hall are fake because their serial number starts with the letters BPNP instead of the DE or E number range.


The City Government through the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) headed by Atty. Edgardo Gil, city legal officer, bought the five rifles from Espineli for P675,000.


The Bacolod City-based Espineli, which was represented by a certain Roberto Herbolario, claims to be an accredited distributor of Olympic Arms in the country.


Herbolario reportedly returned the City Government’s money after the controversy was exposed in the media.


The firearms have also been returned to the supplier but Zulueta said the City Council will still investigate the issue in an executive session with the key BAC members.


By Francis Allan L. Angelo


THE head of the Iloilo City Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) is being questioned for reportedly returning the bid bond of the winning contractor of the botched pile driving works of the New Iloilo City Hall project.


City Councilor Perla Zulueta said she was also surprised upon learning from news reports that Atty. Edgardo Gil, BAC chair and city legal officer, returned the P1.7-million bidder’s bond posted by International Builders Corp. (IBC).


IBC won the contract for the P59-million board piling works of the New City Hall project at the Plaza Libertad site in Iloilo City proper district.


But the firm backed out early this year because the contract price for the board piling increased by P15 million, from P59 million to P74 million.


The increase was brought about by high cost of cement and rebars due to high demand for construction materials by China which was then preparing to host the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


IBC’s withdrawal from the project further delayed the New City Hall project which is intended to be finished in 2010. 


Zulueta said P1.7-million bidder’s bond could have reverted to the Treasury after IBC withdrew from fulfilling the pile driving contract.


Based on report, Gil returned the bidder’s bond “out of pity” for IBC.


A bidders/bid bond is issued by the surety to the owner of the project (in this case the Iloilo City government) in lieu of a required cash deposit.


The cash deposit (usually 10% of the bid amount) is subject to full or partial forfeiture if the contractor is the low bidder and fails to either execute the contract or provide the required performance and/or payment bonds.


In other words, the bid bond assures and guarantees that should the bidder offer the low bid, the bidder will execute the contract and provide the required surety bonds.


Under government procurement rules, the bidder’s bond can only be returned to the contractor through a formal letter addressed to the BAC.


Zulueta said she will ask for clarification on why the BAC returned the bid bond.

July 2020

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