IFUGAO Rep. Teddy Baguilat yesterday said he would call for an investigation into various questionable deals forged between the Department of National Defense (DND) and private arms suppliers in the light of reports that unscrupulous officials could manage to skirt the law on procurement to “fix” contracts.
“We have to study the loopholes in Republic Act 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act),” the lawmaker told a news forum in Manila that was also attended by helicopter scam whistleblower Rhodora Alvarez, who blew the lid off the P1.2 billion aircraft deal last year.
Baguilat could not contain his shock upon hearing the revelations of Alvarez, who just disclosed another potential anomaly in the DND this time involving the supply of drones.
“This is no ordinary case so that it should be looked into… We will review the Procurement Law with the purpose of correcting the loopholes. We cannot continue this questionable practice like what Ms. Alvarez has been saying,” added Baguilat, who also encouraged Alvarez to write him a letter detailing everything she knows about the weaknesses in the procurement system. The lawmaker said the letter would be the basis of a future resolution calling for a new round of congressional probe into military contracts.
For her part, Alvarez said that if the “crooks” in the DND “are back in business, I, too, am back to expose them.”
Alvarez explained that she was inspired by Duterte’s remarks last week during his visits to various military camps in Mindanao, where he promised to do away with the corrupt DND procurement in order to equip soldiers with superior weapons and technologically advanced devices to best help them accomplish their mission.
“This had me jumping for joy since this was the primordial reason why I mustered courage to expose DND officials involved in the botched helicopter deal last year,” she said.
Over the weekend, Alvarez, who previously filed charges against top DND officials of the previous administration, said corruption in military contracts still persists.
“May sindikato sa loob ng DND. Sana mabuwag na po ito. Sayang lamang ang pera ng bayan sa mga walang kwentang gawain ng mga walang pusong tao sa loob ng sistema. Alam ko po na mahirap itong gawin kaya ginagawa ko ang aking share as a Filipino at patuloy koi tong gagawin hanggang sa tuluyang maramdaman ang pagbabago. Alam kong hindi masasayang ang aking mga sakripisyo dahil narito na ang pagbabago,” Alvarez said in a statement on Sunday.
She said she will write President Rodrigo Duterte a letter detailing how deals are “fixed” at the agency, from pre-qualification bidding to actual contract awards.
Alvarez particularly noted a Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PHILGEPS) posting last July 29, 2016, a Friday, regarding an Invitation to Bid (ITB) with reference number 3971300 and Solicitation # 04213531 coming from the DND asking for bids on the Marine Forces Imagery and Targeting Support System (MITSS) Acquisition Project with an approved budget cost of P684,230,000.
The Pre-bid conference was supposed to be conducted the following Monday, August 1, 2016 at 10 a.m. at the DND-BAC Secretariat.
The post was created by Amelia M Garrero, Executive Assistant of DND BAC Secretariat. Alvarez claimed anyone can easily conclude that the posting was a ruse, a “red flag” that gives birth to a multitude of questions that must be answered
“Dito pa lamang sa posting na ito ay nakikita ko na ang pagkakatulad sa pangyayari sa UH 1 project. Sino ba naman ako para paniwalaan but this is worth a try. Sana mag conduct ng initial investigation ang bagong SND (Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana) sa project na ito at sana rin ang magsalita ang mga proponents involved at sabihin ang lahat ng kanilang nalalaman,” Alvarez noted.
“Nakatawag ng aking pansin ang isa sa posting sa PHILGEPS. Una, bakit si Amelia Garrero pa rin? Secondly, nag post ng July 29, Friday na may prebid conference ng August 1, Monday? How can a legitimate supplier respond to this with such a short notice?” she asked.
Based on her experience, Alvarez said that in the UH 1 project, the project had been manipulated before it was posted on the transparency website.
“In the case of UH 1 project, tapos nang magusap ang DND SBAC 1 members headed by former DND Undersecretary Fernando Manalo tungkol sa project bago pa man mag-post ng invitation to Bid at mag-post sa Philgeps,” she averred.