Group calls probe of drone overpricing

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DRONE enthusiasts, hobbyists, professional aerial videographers and photographers have expressed outrage over the overpriced unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that the city government of Toledo in Cebu province is bidding out to suppliers.

Members of Multi-rotor Philippines said the overpricing should be investigated before the contract is awarded to a supplier.

The group was referring to the approved budget of the city government amounting P801,000 for the acquisition of a consumer or hobby-grade drone that costs between P50,000 and P60,000 in local and international markets.

“Dapat ma-follow-up ang imbestigasyon na ito. For sure madami pa din dyan na ibang karumaldumal na transaksyon [There should be an investigation on this. For sure, there are other questionable transactions aside from that],” said Kristoffer de Jesus, a member of the group.


An invitation to bid posted on the government website Philippine Government Electronics Procurement System (PhilGEPS), said Toledo City approved the allocation for the Phantom Drone Quadcopter.

The government took down the website post hours after The Manila Times asked the Bids and Award Committee (BAC) of Toledo City on the pricing of the drone.

A bid form provided by the group to The Times showed that besides the acquisition of Phantom Drone with camera, the city government is planning to buy various accessories for the UAV.

The document showed that the Phantom and the accessories were broken down to P689,000, P84,000 and P28,000.

Jerry Cheng, a hobbyist who did a canvassing of the items listed in the bid form, said the overpricing was glaring.

“Their P689,000 breakdown should just be at P102,700. If they will add an additional Phantom Vision it would all sum to P157,700 only. May sukli pa nga ang [You still have change from] P200,000. So on the budget of P200,000 including the camera, propellers and arms where would the P601,000 go?”, Cheng asked.

Edward Aro Dimaguila, who is a professional drone builder and hobbyist, agreed with Cheng saying that he too conducted his own research after seeing the bid form. His inquiries with various hobby shops indicated that there was indeed an overprice.

“All the items on the bid form should be within P185,800 to P270,800 only depending on the items chosen and that’s with more than fair profit already. Kahit idagdag pa yung 5.0-percent na withholding tax at 1.0-percent na expanded withholding tax eh malayong malayo pa rin sa approved budget [Even if you add the 5.0-percent withholding tax and 1.0-percent expanded withholding tax, the sum would be have a great disparity from the approved budget],” he emphasized.

The group thanked The Times for breaking the story.

The Times again contacted the city’s BAC to get its side on the issue but got no reply.

The quadcopter the city government of Toledo wants to buy is being manufactured by China’s DJI. It is one of the most popular among hobbyists, professional photographers and videographers all over the world.

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