DND denies seeing corruption in review of procurement contracts

The Department of National Defense (DND) under the leadership of Officer in Charge (OIC) Jose Faustino Jr. is conducting a review of procurement contracts made by the past administration but an official bared Thursday, July 14, that it was a “customary” procedure and not held because of corruption issues.

Department of National Defense (DND) Spokesperson Arsenio Andolong (File photo)

Among those being scrutinized by Faustino are the heavy-lift helicopter acquisition project of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) which includes the procurement of 17 units of Mi-17 helicopters for P12.7 billion, and the recently-signed offshore patrol vehicle (OPV) acquisition project of the Philippine Navy (PN) which refers to the purchase of six OPVs for P30 billion.

These projects are part of the second horizon of the revised modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“That Mi-17 along with other procurement projects that are now under the Marcos administration will be subject to review so they are currently under status quo. I have never heard rumors that these will be terminated so subject to review,” said DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong.

Andolong said there is nothing new with the review of the procurement contracts of a new DND chief as this has been a long-time practice to make sure they are well aware of the agreements that they will sign, especially if they are new to the position.

“It’s customary. When a new SND comes in, all the outstanding and ongoing projects are given for him to review. He does not have to order it, it’s an SOP ,” he explained.

“He has to be aware what are the projects that will materialize under his term because it has budget considerations. If you signa contract, there is a time period that has to be followed for you to give the down payment. He also has the option to pursue or terminate a project as head of the procurement entity,” he added.

“It’s not born out of any suspicion ,” he continued.

In November 2021, the government had a G2G contract with Russia for the heavy-lift helicopter acquisition project of Air Force, with LLC Sovtechnoexport firm supplying the aircraft within 24 months.

Former Defense Secretary and now Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) Chairperson Delfin Lorenzana had paid the down payment in January this year but the completion of the program took a rough patch the following month when the Philippine government condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Meanwhile, Lorenzana had signed the OPV acquisition project last month, with Hyundai Heavy Industries set to supply the six OPVs to the Navy.

The signing came as a surprise as Lorenzana previously disclosed that he would let his successor to decide what company will be awarded with the project so as to avoid suspicions that it will not be a “midnight deal” or a project done under the table.

“If I don’t sign this, will drag on and be shelved,” Lorenzana had said on June 27 as he justified his decision to sign the contract.