• Clipping of powers fine with Defense chief

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    THE Department of National Defense (DND) on Tuesday said it welcomes the approval of Executive Order 18, which restricts the authority of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in approving government contracts.

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    The order, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on April 7, repeals Executive Order (EO) 235, streamlining the rules and procedures for defense contracts.

    Director Arsenio Andolong, chief of the DND’s Public Affairs Service, said it was the department that initiated the repeal of EO 235 to give the Defense secretary authority to increase the ceiling of the procurement projects that can be undertaken at the level of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), based on its operational and day to day requirements.

    Under EO 235, the Secretary of National Defense may only delegate to the AFP the authority to approve procurement projects that are below P50 million.

    Beyond this amount, procurement projects must be elevated to the DND for approval.

    With AFP projects amounting to hundreds of millions of pesos based on actual requirements, Andolong said the P50 million cap has become unrealistic and makes the procurement process cumbersome.

    He noted that EO 18 will enable the Defense department to fast-track its procurement process, especially for materials that are badly needed by operating units in the field.

    “We assure the Filipino people that all processes in the DND are in accordance with the law, particularly Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act of 2003 and RA 10349 or the Revised AFP Modernization Act,” Andolong said.

    The President earlier said that since the issuance of EO 235, the Defense department and the AFP have identified other reform measures to promote transparency in procurement transactions.

    “It has been observed that the implementation of EO 235 resulted in bureaucratic impediments and unnecessary delays in the procurement of important defense projects,” EO 18 read.

    EO 18 mandates the Defense chief “to identify and institutionalize measures that will effectively monitor the operations of the separate Bids and Awards Committees, which may be created pursuant to the Government Procurement Law to ensure and promote transparency, impartiality and accountability in government transactions.”

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