Anomalies prevent DND from buying choppers

THE Department of National Defense (DND) has deferred the bidding for attack and multi-purpose helicopters for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) owing to irregularities in the bidding process.

The defense department has recently opened up the bidding process for seven attack helicopters worth P3.2 billion for the Philippine Air Forces (PAF) and two multi-purpose worth P860 million for the Philippine Navy (PN).

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin has ordered the deferment of the bidding because of alleged irregularities, said DND Assistant Secretary Ernesto Boac, chairman of the DND’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC).

“This was brought about by several reports, not only from the media or from private individuals, but also from Congress, particularly from Reps. Teddy Casiño and Tomas Osmeña,” Boac said in a statement.

The BAC chairman said what prompted the DND chief to order the deferment was the alleged collusion of those involved in the procurement and some [aircraft] suppliers.

“The alleged collusion was between (some members) of the Technical Working Group with suppliers in crafting the technical specifications that suited a particular manufacturer,” Boac said.

The allegation came from Casiño of Bayan Muna party-list group and Osmeña of Cebu City. They were apparently referring to Swidnik, the same firm that bagged the contract for the acquisition of P2.8 billion worth of eight combat utility helicopters last year.

Boac said the defense secretary has already ordered a fact-finding inquiry headed by Defense Assistant Secretary for Acquisition Installation and Logistic Fernando Manalo to investigate the matter.  Anthony Vargas

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