The Department of National Defense would like to thank the Inquirer’s generous support through the years. The Inquirer has truly helped us in conveying the department’s thrusts and messages to the Filipino people.
It is with the utmost respect that we are writing you regarding the issues raised by Ramon Tulfo in his column titled “P1.26B chopper deal ‘rotten’” (Metro, 6/9/15).
Contrary to what Rhodora Alvarez told Tulfo, she was given more than ample time during the last Senate blue ribbon committee hearing held on May 20, 2015, when she accused the DND of favoring Rice Aircraft Services Inc. and Eagle Copters Ltd. in the UH-1 Acquisition Project for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).
We reiterate that the procurement processes in the DND are aboveboard, transparent and conducted in accordance with existing rules and regulations under the law. In line with this, it is the practice of the DND to invite third-party observers such as the Coalition Against Corruption, the Samahang Magdalo and members of the media to witness the procedures conducted by the DND’s bid and awards committee. Thus, any possibility of “tailor-fitting” a contract to any bidder would not escape the attention of these third parties and would be next to impossible.
The UH-1 Acquisition Project is no exception.
As to the alleged defects of the UH-1Ds that are already with the PAF, we would like to point out that every helicopter that was accepted underwent stringent screening processes meant to ensure that there were no defects in the units. The helicopters passed the technical inspection and flight tests undertaken by the PAF. In fact, all seven accepted helicopters are fully operational and our pilots are perfectly able to fly them without the need to read or speak German, again contrary to the allegations made by Alvarez. As the primary users of these helicopters, we at the defense department—pilots, soldiers, air crew, maintenance staff, civilian personnel and officials—have of course put safety and reliability as a primary requirement in the acquisition project.
We would also like to take this opportunity to point out that under both the previous modernization program (Republic Act No. 7898) and the revised modernization program (RA 10349), acquisition projects for both brand new and refurbished defense equipment are allowed.
Lastly and most importantly, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin has given specific instructions to the DND bids and awards committee members to strictly follow all bidding rules and procedures, and will never tolerate anyone who will violate them.
We hope that we have clarified the issues that have been raised against the department and this acquisition project.
—ARSENIO R. ANDOLONG, chief, public affairs service, Department of National Defense
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