October 30, 2020
Revilla wants procurement law amended to fast track AFP modernization program
To fast track the procurement of war materiel for the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization program, Sen. Ramon Bong Revilla has filed a bill seeking to amend Republic Act No. 9184 or the “Government Procurement Act of 2003.”
Revilla, in filing Senate Bill No. 1830, said a specialized procurement process for defense assets is needed to pursue and sustain programs for the modernization of the AFP and to enhance the capability of military, police, and other law enforcement units to address the internal security threats posed by local and transnational terrorists and criminal groups, and new and emerging security threats.
“Prior to this, 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.
During the recent Commission on Appointments hearing on the promotions of senior military officials, Revilla questioned AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay on the 2019 Commission on Audit report citing the inefficiencies in the implementation of the AFP modernization program, specifically on projects that should have been completed in 2018 and 2019.
Gapay told the senator the AFP procurement process is also governed by Republic Act No. 9184 and the failure of bidding had caused delay in the implementation of the AFP modernization program. Gapay then proposed that Congress legislate a separate defense procurement act to expedite the bidding process.
Acting on Gapay’s appeal, Revilla filed SBN 1830 “to 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.”
Under the Revilla bill, the Secretary of the Department of National Defense (DND) may prescribe rules and standards to govern the procurement of defense articles, services, and infrastructures, and to enhance the national defense program of the government.
In his amement to Section 5 of 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.
Under the measure, the procurement of domestic and foreign goods “may limit the procurement of defense articles from known direct manufacturers of the items” in order to obtain and maintain the desired standardization and interoperability of military articles inventory, to protect the procurement of defense articles against unscrupulous suppliers and 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.
“It is hoped that with the help of this bill, significant gains will be accomplished in fully realizing the objectives of the AFP modernization program, particularly the development of a self-reliant and credible strategic armed force, such that it can fully perform its mandate to uphold the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic and to secure the national territory from all forms of intrusion and encroachment,” the senator said.