I write on behalf of United Defense Manufacturing Corp. (UDMC), a 100-percent Filipino company, in connection with the procurement of weapons by the Philippine National Police.
The Procurement Law (Republic Act 9184) disqualifies newcomers like UDMC in biddings as we cannot meet the “50% previous contract” rule. Much as the PNP encouraged us to join the bidding, ours was a useless bid after all.
It was the law, not the PNP, that excluded UDMC from the bidding, much to the disappointment of the PNP. An option was for the PNP to invoke Section 50 of RA 9184, which allows “direct contracting” for patented designs, as affirmed by the Government Procurement Policy Board in its letter to UDMC on June 13, 2011. UDMC has two patents: 1-2009-000176 and 1-2011-000062.
There are laws that protect Filipino-patented designs from foreign products’ domination: Sec. 12, Article XII of the Philippine Constitution states: “The State shall promote the preferential use of Filipino labor, domestic materials and locally produced goods, and adopt measures that help make them competitive”; Commonwealth Act 138, the Flag Law, gives preference to Filipino products; RA 5183 requires the winning bidder to be at least 60-percent Filipino owned; the Self-Reliance Defense Posture (SRDP) Law aims for self-reliance by producing in the country our own defense needs; and preference for Filipino products is stated in RA 7898, the AFP Modernization Act.
But these laws are useless if our government will not embrace the nationalistic spirit by helping make our local defense industry competitive in quality and price. And nationalism must start at a level higher than the the PNP’s because RA 9184 unwittingly favors foreign brands. For example, it is ironic that the Armscor pistol, which is very much in demand in the United States, is not the official sidearm of the PNP or Armed Forces of the Philippines.
We don’t need government subsidies, we need big-volume supply contracts. We have Filipino investors ready to infuse capital. We can negotiate with the government in setting a reasonable price for our rifles by opening up our books for them to scrutinize our costs. We are willing to go into a joint venture with the government. Without government procuring from us, we would have no mass base to start with, and we would not be able to compete as a world-class weapons manufacturer in the league of Colt or H&K.
On the M4 rifles’ prices given on the Internet, these are not the prices of military-grade assault rifles. These are prices for semi-auto civilian models designed for sporting use. Indeed, there are technical differences in the designs, metallurgy and raw materials used in the manufacture of military-grade assault rifles and sporting rifles.
CEO, United Defense Manufacturing Corp.,
8383 Dr. A. Santos Ave, (formerly Sucat Road),
San Antonio Valley, Parañaque City 1700