Quality fire trucks at fairer prices
The Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Bureau of Fire Protection have lately been assailed in open letters for their 2010-2011 fire trucks procurement program. The letters, coming from the Filipino Inventors Society (FIS) and local fire truck assembler Anos Research Marketing (AMR), apparently were triggered by reforms to ensure the acquisition of reasonably priced fire trucks of superior quality.
AMR benefited much from DILG’s previous procurement system. From 2006 to 2010, invoking the Filipino First Policy, AMR was virtually the sole supplier of DILG-BFP’s averagely priced P9 million per unit (auxiliary pump-driven) fire trucks, making a total sale of P1.7 billion mostly through a negotiated acquisition process.
DILG’s next procurement will be conducted in an open, competitive bidding process. In this process, given the new specifications and approved budget for the contracts (ABC) for new power-take-off (PTO)-driven fire trucks, the projected total amount of savings would be worth P495 million this year.
Director Rolando Bandilla has explained that “the specific requirement of a PTO-driven fire pump does not bar or exclude local manufacturers from participating in the intended procurement… local manufacturers are not prevented from incorporating PTO-driven fire pump for their fire trucks.” In other words, fire truck purchases in the future would be open to more local assemblers and will no longer be monopolized by a single supplier.
Contrary to what AMR and FIS would have the public believe, AMR’s fire trucks are not “locally” manufactured in the strict sense of the word. They are really imported truck components assembled here. Their engines are reconditioned Isuzu, mounted on Kia Ceres trucks and installed with a Kohler water pump engine, all imported from Japan, Korea and Canada, respectively.
The BFP recommended the new specifications after consultation with its field offices, on the basis of the majority response. As stated by Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, the new fire trucks are brand-new, not reconditioned, and will be bought at the lower price of P6.2 million per unit.
AMR claims that the 76 imported brand-new Rosenbauer fire trucks from Austria will cost the government at least P15 million each. These trucks are far more superior than any of BFP’s PTO trucks, especially the AMR-“made.” If the Austrian government approves a related grant, the Philippines would only pay P7 million for each unit.
It is Secretary Robredo’s view and stand that the DILG, or any government agency for that matter, should heed the preferences of end-users (the BFP firemen in this instance) over the wishes of the manufacturers/dealers for obvious reasons.
As they say, one cannot always please everybody. We therefore expect that there will always be opposition every time we choose to follow the Aquino administration’s “matuwid na landas.”
—FELICIANO REGIS, director, Office of Public Affairs,
Department of the Interior
and Local Government