February 18, 2018, 1:56 am
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DND eyes 4 other chopper suppliers

THE Department of National Defense (DND) is eyeing at least four countries from which to purchase utility helicopters as it is scheduled to scrap its deal with Canada this week.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he will sign the documents to formally cancel the acquisition of 16 brand new choppers from Bell and Canadian Commercial Corporation after President Duterte ordered to stop the deal in response to a concern raised by the Canadian government.

Lorenzana said the scrapping of the deal will affect the procurement of helicopters which is part of the modernization program of the Armed Forces.

“We will go back to square one in the procurement process. The formal letter cancelling the contract is being prepared and I will sign it this week. We are looking at Korea, Russia, China and Turkey and other countries for our medium lift helicopters in lieu of the Bell 412,” Lorenzana said.

The contract covered 16 Bell 412 EPI choppers with a total worth of P12 billion, the third biggest modernization project of the military after the acquisition of a squadron of South Korean FA-50 fighter jets worth P18.9 billion and the procurement of two brand new frigates with a total worth of P15.7 billion.

The deal was not the first between the DND and a Canadian company. Previously, the AFP acquired eight combat utility helicopters with another Canadian firm.

Immediately after the contract for the 16 Bell 412 was formalized, the Canadian government announced that it would review the deal after learning that the choppers would be used in internal security operations (ISO).

Despite Canada’s decision to review the deal, Lorenzana worked to save the project until the last minute, saying it should be exempted from partisan political processes.

But Canada’s pronouncement got the goat of Duterte, who ordered that the DND should instead look for another country-supplier.
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