By Jaime Laude
The Philippine Star, Thursday, September 16, 2010
The review of the P10 billion defense contract for the purchase of two Multi-Role Vessels (MRVs) from South Korea will be completed in a month’s time, a senior South Korean official said yesterday.
South Korean defense attaché to the Philippines Col. Kim Yi Kon said the review of the contract to purchase, entered into by the previous defense leadership, is now underway.
In his remaining weeks as defense chief, then secretary Norberto Gonzales ordered the deferment of the bidding process to favor a government-to-government acquisition for the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The rush was largely due to Gonzales’ eagerness to strike a huge military deal with friendly states to re-equip the AFP major commands before the P330 billion AFP modernization program expires this year.
Gonzales then noted that out of the staggering defense budget to purchase military hardware only P30 billion were used.
Aside from the two MRVs for the Navy, bankrolled by the 2009 and 2010 AFP modernization program, Gonzales also was able to strike a deal with the Polish government to purchase eight brand-new combat utility helicopters for P3.2 billion.
But when the administration of President Aquino came in, a review of these multi-billion defense contracts entered into by Gonzales was ordered, in effort to cast aside speculations that these were part of the midnight deals by the Arroyo administration.
“We are not saying that something is wrong with these defense contracts which have not been perfected yet. We are just reviewing these to determine if all are aboveboard,” Defense spokesman Eduardo Batac said in an earlier interview.
Kim said that once the review is completed and approved by the new defense leadership, it would take sometime before these two MRVs can be delivered to the Philippine Navy.
Kim made the statement during a media briefing on the preparations for the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War.
The Philippines, as among the countries that fought during the Korean War, was represented by the Philippine Marines to the five-day Wonju Tattoo International Military and Marching Bands Music Festival at Gangwan-Do, South Korea.
Marine spokesman Capt. Alden Gwyn Amargo said the crowd was impressed by the showmanship of the Philippine Marines, compared to the large delegation from their counterparts from Russia, Mexico, Thailand, New Zealand, Taiwan, the US and the South Korean Marines.
He said the Philippine Marine band had earned admiration from their counterparts for their musical and drill performances.
“Of the 11 participating military and marching bands, the Philippine Marine Corps Marine Drum Bugle Team has the least number of performers.