MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines has lost an opportunity to acquire 10 attack helicopters from France, a defense official said recently.
Department of National Defense (DND) spokesman Peter Galvez said the 10 attack helicopters initially offered by a French firm are no longer available.
The helicopters had been re-offered to Pakistan by the time the DND was given permission to acquire them through negotiations.
“The helicopters were produced for Pakistan. However, Pakistan had some problems with procurement so the helicopters were opened to the market,” Galvez told The STAR.
“We had planned to acquire the helicopters and had to clarify some questions (by agencies overseeing the procurement). By the time we were allowed to acquire the helicopters, Pakistan had initiated some moves to rework the procurement,” he added.
These developments prompted French firm Eurocopter to offer the helicopters again to Pakistan.
The helicopters could have been used by the military to defend the country’s territorial integrity and conduct internal security operations.
Despite the apparent setback to its modernization efforts, the DND said it continues to find suppliers that can upgrade the military’s capabilities.
“We are now looking into other short-listed participants from European countries,” Galvez said.
“We are working double-time to meet the time frame we set despite the drawbacks we are encountering,” he added.
As early as June 18, 2012, the DND asked the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) to allow it to acquire the helicopters through negotiated procurement under a defense cooperation agreement with France, documents obtained by The STAR showed.
DND again wrote to the GPPB on July 10 to reiterate the “pressing need” to acquire the 10 attack helicopters, along with 21 UH-1 helicopters and three naval helicopters.
Sources said the GPPB, composed of representatives from different agencies, only meets once a month.
DND documents also showed that a GPPB meeting scheduled last July 18 that was supposed to discuss the request was postponed due to lack of quorum. Another reason for the postponement was the failure of GPPB to name a chair and alternate chair for its review committee. The meeting was reset to Aug. 1.
On Aug. 10, the GPPB denied DND’s request to acquire the helicopters through negotiated procurement under a defense cooperation agreement. GPPB said DND had “failed to meet the requirement to negotiate directly with an agency or instrumentality of another country.”
It recommended that DND acquire the helicopters through negotiated procurement under emergency case, which involves talks with suppliers rather than with governments.