OFFICIALS of the Department of National Defense (DND) may have broken the law, particularly Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act, when they insisted on acquiring 21 refurbished UH-1D helicopters through negotiated contract despite repeated warnings by the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) against it.
Documents obtained by The Manila Times that were cross-checked with the online version on the GPPB website indicated that the DND pulled a fast one on the GPPB headed by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad when it claimed that it had conducted two failed biddings as of October 2012 when, in fact, the first public bidding for the project was conducted on December 4 that year.
The GPPB is the highest policy-making body of the government when it comes to procurement of new assets. DND insiders who were privy to the chopper deal pointed out that Defense officials who were itching to award the contract through negotiation with Rice Aircraft Services Inc. (RASI) may have violated RA 9184 and Executive Order (EO) 645, which requires the head of any department to seek the GPPB’s approval when a project is worth more than P500 million.
Records show that the GPPB repeatedly denied the DND’s request to negotiate the acquisition of the 21 helicopters for the Philippine Air Force and other aircraft for the Philippine Navy. Eventually, the GPPB allowed the department to pursue a negotiated contract for the attack helicopters but not for the 21 UH-1D aircraft. This was after DND officials made several attempts to reverse the resolution of the GPPB in June 2012 that insisted on competitive bidding for the 21 helicopters.
Interestingly, GPPB Resolution 23-2012 signed and approved on October 25, 2012 indicated that the DND claimed to have had two failed biddings so that it may be allowed to negotiate the contract.
Sen. Jose Victor Ejercito called for a Senate probe of the alleged anomaly principally to find out if the DND committed violations of RA 9184 and EO 645.
A DND insider who led The Times to check the legality of the contract in the face of EO 645 and the provisions of RA 9184 said the DND “misrepresented” and “misled” the GPPB into believing that biddings had been conducted.
The law provides that an agency can pursue a negotiated contract after two failed biddings. In the case of the 21 UH-1Ds, there were three failed biddings, which, critics said, were only a “show” so that the department may be allowed to negotiate and award the contract to RASI.
The Manila Times checked the web and asked sources if, indeed, there were two failed biddings for the chopper project before October 25, 2012. It turned out, however, that the first bidding was done on December 4, 2012. One year later, in December 2013, RASI bagged the negotiated contract.
It was learned that the first public bidding failed because the bidders did not meet some requirements. Two companies–Star Defense System/Radom Israel and RASI–joined the December 4 bidding in Camp Aguinaldo, the Armed Forces general headquarters in Quezon City.
An issue tackled during the bidding was whether the bidders can deliver the helicopters in February, citing the need to use them for the 2013 elections, which the DND used as basis of claiming an “emergency” for the chopper acquisition.
The Air Force had recommended that the helicopters be delivered by February 28, 2013 because these will be used during the midterm polls that year.
To be continued