Sunday, January 29, 2012

Soon, new body armor for soldiers

MANILA, Philippines - If things work out as planned, the government will purchase new military equipment and body armor to provide protection to soldiers in field units who are engaged in combat operations.

The Department of National Defense (DND) said it will acquire P174 million worth of force protection equipment to support the military’s security operations.

An invitation to bid signed by DND Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) chairman Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez said the DND is looking to purchase 3,480 sets of body armor.

The deadline for the submission of bids is on Feb. 6 at 10 a.m. The opening of bids will be held on the same day at the DND building at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Velez said bidders should have completed within five years from the submission and receipt of bids a contract similar to the project.

The bidding would be conducted through open and competitive bidding procedures. The bids will be opened in the presence of the bidders’ representatives, DND officials and private sector observers.

Local and foreign firms may join the bidding subject to the eligibility conditions set by the implementing rules of the procurement law. The BAC would not accept bids submitted beyond the deadline.

Interested parties may acquire bidding documents from the BAC secretariat upon payment of a non-refundable fee of P25,000.

The Aquino administration has vowed to provide the military with the necessary equipment to allow it to perform its mandate.

The Army would be provided with new assault rifles, armor assets, tanks, armored personnel carriers, force protection equipment like helmets and bulletproof vests, night-fighting equipment, and radios.

The government would also acquire surface attack aircraft, air defense radars, long-range patrol aircraft and closed air support aircraft for the Air Force.

For the Navy, the government plans to buy strategic sealift vessels with amphibious vessels, offshore patrol vessels, three naval helicopters, coast watch stations and weather-heavy endurance cutters.

Regional security still primordial concern

Defense officials flew to Italy this weekend to inspect military equipment in line with their plan to approve 138 modernization projects worth P70 billion by July.

DND spokesman Peter Galvez said Secretary Voltaire Gazmin’s team left the country yesterday and is expected to be back on Friday.

Gazmin was accompanied by Defense Undersecretary for Finance, Munitions, Installations and Materiel Fernando Manalo, Velez and staff members of the BAC.

“They will go to about 20 different locations and companies, both government and private. They will inspect and evaluate the offers of companies in Italy and also witness the testing of equipment,” Galvez told The STAR in a phone interview yesterday.

Gazmin said in an interview last Friday that they would inspect ships, planes and tanks available in Italy. He did not say what specific equipment would be acquired from the European country.

“We have assessment teams that would go to different countries to evaluate the equipment they are offering,” he said.

Other countries that offered defense equipment to the Philippines include Spain, the United States, Korea, France and the United Kingdom.

“Our main responsibility is to ensure the approval and signature of the contracts for all the 138 projects for the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) modernization and capability upgrade program not later than July 31, 2012,” Gazmin said.

AFP chief Lt. Gen. Jessie Dellosa said priority would be given to the needs of the Navy and the Air Force.
“We lack equipment needed to defend our territory,” he said.

Most of the projects would be acquired through government-to-government transactions but others would be acquired through open and competitive bidding. Gazmin said the medium-term projects would be completed in 2016.

Galvez said among the funding sources are the AFP modernization budget and proceeds from the Malampaya natural gas project.

He said the DND would ask MalacaƱang for a multi-year obligation authority.

Such authority would allow an agency to enter into a multi-year contract for its projects, which, in the DND’s case, would include the procurement of military equipment.

Galvez said the multi-year obligation authority would cover the period 2013 to 2016. This would allow the AFP to use the purchased equipment while the government is paying for them on installment basis.

Gazmin, however, admitted that approving the contracts of the 138 projects in six months is a challenge.

“The factor of time is our adversary. Nevertheless, I am confident that we shall prevail in the pursuit of this objective. Our worst-case scenario is November. But if we attain at least 50 percent by July, that would still be a good batting average,” he said.

Dellosa welcomed DND’s support for their modernization program, noting this came at a time when regional security concerns are being addressed.

“Expectations are high whenever we hear the word modernization but admittedly much is still to be done in upgrading our capabilities and equipage if only to be fully effective in winning the peace for this country,” he said.
The Philippine Star
January 29, 2012 12:00 AM

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