From The Standard (Aug 4): DND chooses vests over missile system
THE Department of National Defense has dumped the Army’s P6.5-billion Shore-Based Missile System, a government-to-government negotiated deal with Israel, to buy ballistic vests, helmets and rifles, among other things.
“The SBMS Acquisition Project will be replaced by higher priority projects that aim to provide support and protection to soldiers in the field due to the rising security situation in the WPS [WEst Philippine Sea] and the continuing terrorist acts by the enemies of the Government of the Philippines,” a two-page letter dated July 22, 2015, signed by Patrick Velez, Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Installation and Logistics, told Avi Felder, president of Israel Military Industries or IMI.
Velez, however, said that the implementation of the SBMS project had not been shelved but only deferred).
There has been no confirmation from Malacañang if President Benigno Aquino IIIU has approved the the project’s postponement.
Velez said the decision to use the P6.5-billion budget for missiles to buy materials for the protection of soldiers was a result of the 69th Senior Leaders Round-Table Discussion on the Defense Acquisition System on June 10, 2015.
IMI was shocked at the Defense Department’s decision.
Aquino and his defense alter-ego, Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, had promised that the Armed Forces would achieve minimum credible external defense capability before their term ends in 2016.
On Dec. 18, 2014, the department’s Special Bids and Awards Committee 1 declared IMI as the Single Calculated Responsive Bidder for the project.
The IMI had just been waiting for the issuance of the Notice of Award when, sometime in May, then Army chief and now Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Hernando Irriberi sought the realignment of the project. This was after the local representative of IMI filed criminal and administrative charges against him before the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged undue delay in the implementation of at least three ammunition projects worth P97.8 million.
Sources from the Ombudsman said the cases were due for resolution in connection with the supplier’s prayer for a 6-month preventive suspension against Irriberi.
According to former National Security Adviser and now Parañaque City Rep. Roilo Golez, the SBMS project could have been a good move to jump-start Aquino’s promise of minimum credible external defense capability against the aggression of China in the West Philippine Sea, where it is making artificial islands.
He slammed Irriberi for recommending in haste the realignment of the SBMS and urged the Commission on Appointments not to confirm him.