Unverified info from an anonymous source

JEERS TO The Manila Times for publishing an inaccurate report from, initially, an anonymous informant about the helicopters purchased by the Department of National Defense (DND).

In its report “Choppers bought for P1.2B defective” published on March 8, the Times claimed that the 21 UH-1D helicopters acquired by the DND through a contract with Rice Aircraft Services Inc. (RASI) and its partner, Eagle Copters Ltd., were defective.

The report also said the wrong units were delivered as the contract was for the procurement of UH-1H models. The Times also raised safety and reliability issues due to “obsolete” parts.

But reports from the Philippine Daily Inquirer say otherwise. Defense undersecretary for finance, munitions and material Fernando Manalo said in an Inquirer article (“DND defends P1.2 billion chopper deal,” March 9) that the contract was for models in UH-1 series and not specifically for the UH-1H.

Robert Arthur Rice Jr. of RASI, on the other hand, denied allegations that parts for the UH-1Ds are obsolete, and said in a statement published in another Inquirer report (“DND to probe helicopter deal,” March 12) that the parts are interchangeable with UH-1H models.

Maj. Aristides Galang, operations officer of the 210th Tactical Squadron and a test pilot involved in the acceptance of the helicopters, also said in the report that he did not encounter problems during the test flights of the aircraft.

The issue on safety and reliability, although raised, was not pursued by the media.

Subsequent reports by the Times continued to quote the anonymous informant, which it referred to as “Joey.” The reports were visibly biased towards the informant.

The Times exposé has sparked interest and discussion among readers. However, without verifying the information it received, the paper risked misleading the public by disseminating false information.