Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. is seeking to amend the government procurement law to expedite the modernization program of the Armed Forced of the Philippines (AFP).
Revilla on Friday pushed for his Senate Bill No. 1830, which proposes to authorize the secretary of the Department of National Defense (DND), “in the interest of national security,” to prescribe rules and standards governing the procurement of defense articles, services and infrastructure needed for the government’s defense program.
The Commission on Audit previously flagged the delays and inefficiencies in the implementation of AFP modernization projects over the military’s “failure to conduct detailed engineering investigations, surveys and designs prior to bidding and award of contract”, citing the Government Procurement Act of 2003 (Republic Act No. 9184) and its implementing rules and regulations.
But Revilla, echoing appeals from the AFP leadership, said a specialized procurement process for defense assets is needed to pursue and sustain programs for the AFP modernization.
“The AFP leadership had already asked Congress to introduce amendments to the stringent requirements of the Government Procurement Reform Act to address the unique needs and demands of purchasing defense equipment and services, such as the need for confidentiality and reasonable extension on time frames with respect to supplies sourced overseas,” Revilla said in the bill filed last September 14.
He also recalled that during a Commission on Appointments hearing last September, AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay proposed that Congress legislate a separate defense procurement act to expedite the bidding process.
Revilla said his bill, will “provide the necessary authority, opportunity and flexibility for the Department of National Defense and the AFP leadership to fast track its implementation of the long-delayed modernization program.”
“While this measure provides an expeditious and specialized procurement for the defense sector, it is still anchored on the basic principles of quality and reliability of purchases, and accountability and integrity,” he clarified.
In his proposed amendment to RA 9184, infrastructure projects shall include ship-building projects and the repair, restoration and maintenance of military ships, aircraft and other major military equipment.
When the procurement involves national security interest, the DND Secretary, upon the approval of the President, may prescribe any of the methods of procurement as may be applicable for the procurement or development of defense articles, services, and infrastructures, without resorting to competitive bidding, Revilla said.
The Defense chief, also upon the President’s approval, “may limit the procurement of defense articles from known direct manufacturers of the items” to ensure high-quality defense items.
The measure also provides that the procurement of major defense equipment not available locally could be exempted from the requirement of public bidding, in view of security and other strategic considerations, including confidentiality, interoperability, and/or the existence of defense partnerships.Attachments area