DND refutes COA report on violation of procurement rules in purchase of weapons, equipment

By Priam F. Nepomuceno

MANILA, Nov. 11 (PNA) — The Department of National Defense (DND) said it has observed proper procurement protocol in its acquisition of weapons and equipment, adding that public bidding is not the only mode of procurement provided under the law.

DND made the statement in response to a Commission on Audit (COA) report claiming that various weapons and equipment upgrade made by the Armed Forces of the Philippines under the AFP Modernization Program totaling PhP24.883 billion has violated provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9184 also known as Government Procurement Reform Act.

“To begin with, we would like to point out that public bidding is not the only mode of procurement provided for in law. RA 9184 allows for alternative modes of procurement in specific situations,” said DND public affairs office chief Arsenio Andolong.

He also clarified that the purchase of 12 lead-in fighter/trainers from South Korea was made through negotiated mode of procurement as provided for in Sec 53. 8 (Defense Cooperation Agreement) of the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 9184.

“Following the Defense System of Management (DSOM), it was determined by Defense Acquisitions Systems (DAS) senior leaders, composed of DND officials and major service commanders, that the FA-50 manufactured by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) was most suited for the Philippine’s F/SA/LIFT requirement,” he added.

Under the South Korean Trade and Investment Act, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) is the appropriate and authorized South Korean government agency for the said project.

“We would also like to note that the said project and mode of procurement was approved by the Government Procurement Policy Board through Resolution No. 30-2012,” Andolong pointed out.

On the other hand, the Bell 412 acquisition from Canada was done through a government-to-government transaction pursuant to Section 4.2 of the Revised IRR of RA 9184, which states that in case of conflict between the treaty, international or executive agreement and the Revised IRR of RA 9184, the former shall prevail.

Andolong said the project was made possible through an executive agreement with Canada, and the Bell 412s were chosen specifically for ease of integration of pilots and technicians, and the need for a reliable helicopter for the APEC.

“The acquisition of M-113 vehicles from Israel is also pursuant to Section 4.2 of the Revised IRR of RA 9184. In addition, we would like to state that contrary to the report, the DND dealt with the Israeli SIBAT-Ministry of Defense (MOD), and not with Elbit Systems Land. SIBAT-MOD is the authorized government agency of Israel for the sale of military and defense material,” the DND public affairs office chief said.

While the C4I/GIS, portable radio and technical forensic upgrade acquisition projects are for the use of military intelligence.

“For the C4I/GIS computer systems, the DND entered into direct contracting with the joint venture of Triton Communications System and Geodata Systems Technologies under Section 50 of the Revised IRR of RA 9184,” he added.

While the portable radio and technical forensic upgrade acquisition projects were procured through negotiated mode (emergency).

These projects were classified as “emergency” in nature because they are “solely intended for intelligence use and application, therefore it is vital to be kept as confidential and the same is supported by certification from the head of procuring entity that the procurement is emergency in nature” because “immediate action is necessary to prevent damage to or loss of life or property and to restore vital public service,” provided for in Section 53.2 of the revised IRR.

“Again, we would like to emphasize that the procurement of the above-mentioned projects have been thoroughly discussed following the Defense System of Management (DSOM),” he added.

Andolong said the DND wishes to reiterate that all of its bidding processes are transparent, lawful and advantageous to the government.

“We have invited third party observers, including members of the media, the Coalition Against Corruption (CAC), Samahang Magdalo, and the Commission on Audit, to observe every stage of our procurement process, in order for them to better appreciate the challenges our BACs face in every project,” he stressed.

Under Section 13 of the Revised IRR of RA 9184, observers are required to submit regular reports to the Head of Procuring Entity (HOPE) for any irregularities in its bidding process.

The DND has so far yet to receive any of such reports, Andolong pointed out.

“We reiterate to all our invited observers to attend and observe our bidding process, and be our partners in transparency and accountability in our bidding processes,” he concluded. (PNA)