Navy says nobody rigged bidding for choppers

THE Philippine Navy on Wednesday said nobody in its ranks could have colluded with a supplier to rig the bidding of the P4-billion worth purchase of military helicopters.

The Navy also said the delay in the acquisition of the choppers could have serious effects on their capability to respond to disasters and internal security operations.

The statement came after the Department of National Defense (DND) announced that it had deferred the bidding for the purchase of attack helicopters worth P3.2 billion for the Air Force and multi-purpose choppers worth P860 million for the Navy.

On Monday, Assisstant Secretary Ernesto Boac, chairman of DND’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), said Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin ordered the deferment of the bidding for 30 days.

The bidding was deferred after two lawmakers alleged that there was collusion between members of the Technical Working Group and the suppliers, who supposedly manipulated the technical specifications of the aircraft to suit a chosen manufacturer.

Navy spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo, however, said “it isn’t possible to influence the (specifications) to suit a particular manufacturer.”

He said the Navy provided the technical specifications of the helicopters it needed “considering the peculiarities of Fleet-Marine operations that require those air assets” with the specifications “originating from the inputs of the end users (like the Naval Air Group and the Sailors and Marines in the frontline).”

The specifications were then “submitted to higher headquarters through channel(s) – passing through the Technical Working Group to Weapons Systems Board of the Navy – all the way to similar offices at GHQ (general headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines) going to DND.”

Arevalo said “there certainly are other companies” who can supply aircraft meeting the specifications provided by the Navy but suggested that “the budget that the AFP has for the (helicopters) could be that major delimiting cause why other bidders may have backed out as in this case.”

He said the Navy is hoping “the issue can be resolved really soon.” Anthony Vargas

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