DND gets 5 helicopters to boost maritime security


  

  

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) is acquiring five naval helicopters to boost the Navy’s maritime security and disaster response capabilities.

DND Assistant Secretary Ernesto Boac told The STAR that the project costs P2.2 billion and would be funded by the Armed Forces modernization program and the Department of Energy.

The government is planning to negotiate with Italian firm Agusta Westland for the purchase of five Agusta Westland (AW) 109 naval helicopters.

“The helicopters will improve the capabilities of the Navy. These will be used for maritime security, internal security operations and disaster response,” Boac said.

The Agusta website says the AW 109 helicopter is “a versatile aircraft” that can perform executive transport, offshore and emergency medical services and surveillance.

The helicopters are expected to accompany the Navy’s vessels when conducting patrols.

Lt.j.g. Nelson Alquiza, a member of the negotiating team, said a pre-negotiation conference would be held on Nov. 5 while the submission of eligibility documents will be on Nov. 6.

A notice of award is expected to be issued by Nov. 22 while the contract for the project may be approved by Dec. 3.

Alquiza said the first batch of helicopters would be delivered by Oct. 17, 2013.

The delivery of the five naval helicopters is expected to be completed by Dec. 17, 2013.

About P1.35 billion of the P2.2-billion funding is ready for disbursement. The DND is awaiting Malacañang’s approval for the release of the rest of the funds.

The P1.35 billion can bankroll the purchase of three of the five AW 109 helicopters.

Boac said the helicopters would be purchased through negotiated procurement under emergency cases, one of the modes of acquisition allowed by law.

DND originally asked the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) to allow it to purchase the helicopters through the usual negotiated procurement. The request covered the acquisition of three helicopters since the DND can only enter into negotiations once the funds are ready.

In its request to the GPPB, the DND said the acquisitions are “immediate needs” to enhance the capabilities of the military in performing its mission.

In justifying its request, DND said the helicopters are not available locally. It also claimed that national interest should be protected by negotiating with an entity or agency of a country that has diplomatic ties with the Philippines.

The GPPB, however, denied the request, saying the DND will be negotiating with a supplier identified by a partner country and not with the partner country itself or its agency. Source: Philstar.com

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