ANOTHER senator has sought the investigation of the implementation of the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in light of the controversial P1.2-billion helicopter procurement deal entered into by the Department of National Defense (DND) with a foreign company.
Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, who is detained for plunder, filed Senate Resolution 1245 directing the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security headed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the implementation of Republic Act 10349 or the revised AFP Modernization Act, particularly the allegedly irregular procurement of military equipment including the helicopter deal.
Estrada was referring to the P1.21-billion contract entered into by the DND with Rice Aircraft and Canadian firm Eagle Copters Ltd. for procurement of 21 units of UH-1D or Huey helicopters in 2013 that was first reported by The Manila Times.
In his resolution, Estrada noted that RA 10349 was passed in 2012 to fully implement the AFP modernization program.
Under RA 10349, a P75-billion fund will be allocated during the first five years of the program that will be divided into three phases starting in 2014. The first phase, which covers 2014 to 2017, has a budget of P90.858 billion; the second, from 2017 to 2023, has an allotment of P90 billion; while the third covers 2024 to2028.
The first phase of the 15-year modernization program includes 33 projects that involve the “acquisition of warships, fighter jets, helicopters, air radar system and other military hardware.”
Estrada pointed out that RA10349 calls for the acquisition of “new equipment and weapons system” that “shall be synchronized with the phase-out of uneconomical and obsolete major equipment and weapons systems in the AFP inventory.”
This would mean that the reported purchase of obsolete and decommissioned war materiel like theUH-1 helicopters is contrary to RA 10349.
The Manila Times reported that the UH-1D units delivered by the supplier to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) did not comply with the project contract’s Terms of Reference (TOR).
Estrada, in calling for a Senate investigation, said there is a need to review the project to ensure that the government has not entered a lopsided deal and that the people’s money is well spent.
”Considering the country’s limited financial resources and escalating defense and security needs, this matter should be immediately addressed and given remedy, if necessary, to avoid similar irregularities and anomalies in the remaining years of implementation of the Revised AFP Modernization Program,” the senator added.
Estrada is second member of the Senate to call for an inquiry into the P1.2-billion chopper deal. The first was his half-brother, Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito.
The two resolutions were referred to the Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations (blue ribbon), which is headed by Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd, with the committees on national defense and security and on finance as secondary panels.
Trillanes said he intends to wait for results of the DND investigation and if the report is not satisfactory, the Senate will begin its own inquiry.