Lawmaker lauds scrapping of DND helicopter deal

BAYAN Muna  Rep. Teddy Casiño welcomed the move of the Department of National Defense (DND) to cancel a US$73 M (P3.2 billion) attack helicopter deal with Polish defense contractor PZL Swidnik that was found overpriced by at least P400 million.

But the lawmaker, who first questioned the deal during the deliberations for the 2011 DND budget last October, said more should be done to identify and punish those responsible for the anomaly.

“Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin’s decision to declare a failure of bidding for the attack helicopter acquisition project of the Philippine Air Force, as reported in the media, is not good enough. It fell short of imposing sanctions on officers accountable for the overpricing and rigging of the project’s bidding process,” Casiño said.

An Agence France Presse report said Gazmin cancelled the deal this week after a board of inquiry formed to investigate the contract found it overpriced by at least P400 million.

“The purchase had all the tell tale signs of a rigged bidding. I’m surprised that the DND’s investigation ignored this. Also, if there was an overprice, who was the culprit? I think a more independent and thorough investigation is needed,” said Casiño.

“That rigged deal, approved by the bid committee in September this year, would have had the Philippine government buy seven attack helicopters after a series of failed bids in 2008 and 2009. The contract was eventually awarded to a sole bidder after five suppliers mysteriously backed out and after the bids committee arbitrarily revised specifications like payload and engine displacement. This type of revising and re-scaling of specifications is itself rigging the bidding process to favor one bidder that is disadvantageous to government,” Casiño added.D’Jay Lazaro

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