Avoid purchase of refurbished military equipment, gov't urged

AT LEAST two senators are urging the government to acquire brand new military equipment and to avoid buying refurbished units.

Senator JV Ejercito said that he wanted to make sure that the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) would opt for acquisition of brand new military equipment as he vowed to scrutinize all the supply contracts of the DND and the AFP.

Ejercito is also contemplating to resume its investigation into the alleged anomalous P1.2 billion helicopter deal which the DND entered into with joint venture of Rice Aircraft Inc. (RAC) of the United States and Eagle Copter of Canada in 2012.

The DND, according to reports, was able to acquire only seven units while the AFP had only one, as they were forced to stop the negotiation on the supposed purchase of 21 refurbished helicopters.

Instead, the Philippine Air Force acquired new Bell 412 helicopters.

"We were not able to finish the investigation but since there was no committee report yet, I think the Senate can reopen this issue which will clearly send a message that anomalous deals will be scrutinized. Hindi po natin ito palulusutin lalo at nangyayari ito sa mga refurbished equipment," Ejercito was quoted as saying.

Sergio Osmena III, for his part, said the move to guard against the acquisition of second-hand equipment with questionable quality is a good move as second hand military equipment risks the lives of our Filipino soldiers.

"We should only buy equipment that can really help us and if the second-hand equipment is already 'unfit' for use of our soldiers, then it is useless," OsmeƱa said.

The inquiry carried out by the Senate blue ribbon last year failed to reach its conclusion as well as the filing of a committee report based on the hearings conducted by the Senators.

The P1.2 billion contract involving the acquisition of refurbished UH-1D helicopters for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) became controversial after a whistleblower, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) employee Rhodora Alvarez, came out to claim that RACI supposedly bagged the deal because it has been "tailor-fitted from the very start."

The DND terminated the contract after Senate blue ribbon chair Teofisto Guingona III held several hearings but was not able to finish the investigation until Congress adjourned sine die last June. (Sunnex)
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