Navy promotes transparency, accountability through procurement forum

By Francis Wakefield

The Philippine Navy (PN) held its first PN Procurement Forum at the Rizal Park Hotel, South Road Drive in Ermita, Manila on Tuesday, March 19.

Around 300 participants from the Department of National Defense, General Headquarters, logistics officers from the Philippine Navy, Army and Air Force, as well as representatives from the local and foreign proponents of PN projects took part in the event.

The forum focused on the issues of procurement activities as part of the PN’s initiatives to strengthen systems and procedures to ensure check and balance and transparency in the procurement system.

With the theme “Strengthening Partnerships in Promoting Transparency and Accountability to Ensure Corruption-Free Procurement System,” the Flag Officer In Command, Philippine Navy, Vice Admiral Robert A. Empedrad welcomed all invited guests in this forum.

“Today’s activity is a testament to the PN’s mission of ensuring that our procurement system is strategic and sustainable – one that is not only responsive to our naval requirements, but more importantly free from corruption and other forms of malpractices,” Empedrad said.
Highlights of the forum were the inputs shared by the invited guest speakers as well as the discussions that underscored the importance of a responsive procurement system for the strategic and operational needs of the Navy.

Col. De Silva Joe Ronesh, Defense Attaché of Singapore to the Philippines shared the best practices within Singapore’s procurement systems, anti-corruption framework and innovative ways for acquisition and procurement that may be considered by the PN.

PN’s experiences on the procurement process were discussed by Commodore Alberto B. Carlos, Chairman of PN Bids and Awards Committee. He informed that the PN will create a One-Stop Shop for all procurement needs of the Navy.

This was to ensure not only streamlined processes but of the system to be unified and centralized to avoid being tainted with any assumptions.

Assistant Secretary Jesus Rey R. Avilla of the Department of National Defense shared his insights on the AFP’s Defense Acquisition System (DAS). He highlighted the importance of DAS on the PN’s acquisition to respond more effectively and efficiently to security challenges and defense needs.

Director Amanella D. Arevalo of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) gave a comprehensive appraisal of the DBM Execution of CY2019 Budget through the Annual Cash Based Appropriations which will put emphasis on accelerating program delivery.

The Office of Ombudsman, Junelyn A. Pagunsan delivered a presentation that identified the core results of corruption, which included a sound procurement paradigm ensuring the identified needs are procured and implemented.

During the closing ceremony, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana noted that the forum was able to achieve its objective.

“The procurement process is a process that we can’t get away. When you run the government, there will always be procurement,” Lorenzana said.

He said that the conduct of the procurement forum was very significant.

“The package here is that we will get the best equipment, the process is transparent and fair for everyone and at the end of the day, everybody should be happy. With this forum, we may able to have a seamless, trouble free procurement process. Let’s work together, we assure the proponents that we will make the procurement process to be fair and we will see to it that corruption to be eliminated, practices of the past will not bother us again because we will have a more credible defense especially through the Philippine Navy,” he said.

The event highlighted the means of collective effort as a primary key to ensure the Navy’s procurement system is resistant to corruption – with the proper institutions and mechanisms in place to deter it. This system is integral for the PN to meet its national and regional security obligations, not only to address a wide range of threats, but also to become an indispensable tool for nation building.