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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Another call for "special" treatment

AFP upgrade needs special rules
THE ARMED FORCES of the Philippines (AFP) has asked Congress to put up specialized rules to govern defense purchases, saying that the government’s procurement laws have posed as bottlenecks to the agency’s planned upgrades. The House committee on defense and national security called for a panel inquiry for updates on the AFP program, which has been signed recently amended in 2012.

Despite an allocation of P82.48 billion for the AFP Modernization Program until 2027, artillery and vessel upgrades have been delayed as the military had to endure the regular procurement process under Republic Act (RA) 9184, a military official said. “The acquisition system has been challenged by stringent requirements of RA 9184,” AFP Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Plans Brig. Gen. Guillermo A. Molina, Jr. told lawmakers during a sunset review of the AFP modernization program at the House of Representatives. Mr. Molina said the strict guidelines set by the procurement law has weighed on the pace of AFP’s acquisition of additional firearms and defense systems.

Of 30 planned projects under RA 10349 signed nearly three years ago, only two are under implementation while 28 remain stuck under various stages of procurement, a status report presented by AFP officials yesterday showed.

Department of National Defense (DND) Assistant Secretary Patrick M. Velez appealed to Congress to look into either amending the country’s procurement law to leave room to address specific issues on defense purchases, or include a provision in the two AFP modernization bills to exempt them from the limitations of the procedure
AFP asks Congress to ease procurement guidelines for defense equipment
One of the changes that the AFP proposed is the extension of the 30-day period for bid submissions since it has proven to be realistic. Velez said the procurement of defense equipment usually takes a longer time since it is sourced overseas.

In addition, the preference for lowest calculated bids and local producers should be relaxed since the highly advanced systems available abroad can be tailor-fit to meet specific requirements.

Velez said it might also be better if a separate procurement entity for defense agencies or uniformed personnel services be established since the recent trend in defense procurement remove the responsibility of purchasing equipment from the armed forces.

“[That] would now result to professionalization of defense procurement and correct certain deficiencies,” he said.
Read more in each of the articles at the links.

This is a theme that pops up frequently. For example:
Special needs and higher education, and

When corners are cut, even for great reasons (e.g., war), the way is opened for fraud
Even in countries or other jurisdictions that don't seem to have a history of questionable procurements, a cry for special treatment should be treated with critical and cynical scrutiny. 

If they had their "druthers", most bureaucracies, private or public, don't want to have to account for their acquisitions or be bothered to conduct them in a fair, honest, transparent and, yes, efficient manner. That kind of scrutiny is beneath them, and they are way too important to have to answer for their actions. It's a case of a patronizing "father knows best" attitude.

When someone says, "trust me, I'm from the Government and I'm only here to help", don't fall for it lightly.  It can and does happen, but those usually are not self-proclaimed "special" cases.

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