US firm wins P439-m arms deal

AN AMERICAN firm is said to have been awarded the contract to supply artillery worth P438.62 million to the Philippine Army in the bidding conducted by the Bids and Awards Committee of the Department of National Defense.

In the opening of the bid documents on Dec. 5, the bids committee, led by Assistant Secretary Efren Fernandez, initially considered Elbit Systems Land and C4I as the winning bidder.

The pre-bid conference was held on Nov. 22 at the BAC Conference Room inside the Defense Department building in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

But some Defense insiders who spoke on condition of anonymity said they noted possible irregularities in the bidding process “just to beat the deadline.”

“The bidding process was very fast,” one insider said.

“Elbit’s documents were problematic. The Technical Working Group’s supplemental documents were chaotic.”

Contacted through his mobile phone, Fernando Manalo, Defense undersecretary for Finance, Munitions, Installations and Materiel, could not immediately give a comment on the matter.

“I’m sorry I have no information yet about the progress of the bidding. I have to consult first the chairman of the BAC,” Manalo said.

The bidding involves the supply of 155mm howitzers and ammunition for P438,620,000.

From October to December there had been a rush of biddings being conducted by the Defense Department for some big-ticket items to upgrade the military’s capability, which involves billions of pesos from the P75 billion approved by President Benigno Aquino III to modernize the military.

A second source said the Defense Department was rushing the bidding of all projects for 2013 to meet the December deadline, else the budget reverts back to the National Treasury.

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