Philippine leader stops helicopter deals over alleged corruption
Wed, Oct 06, 2010
The Brunei Times/ANN
Philippine President Benigno Aquino delivering his speech during the World Teachers' Day celebration at a sports arena in Pasig City, Metro Manila, yesterday.

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino has blocked the purchase of nine military helicopters worth nearly 93 million dollars (S$122 million) after allegations of corruption, military spokesmen said yesterday.

The Filipino navy and air force both rejected the allegations of collusion to favour a particular supplier of the seven air force attack helicopters and two navy helicopters saying the correct process had been followed.

However the military deferred to Aquino's decision to review the contracts, according to navy Lieutenant-Colonel Edgard Arevalo and air force Lt Col Miguel Ernesto Ocol.

"It's not possible to rig that (process) to cater to anybody's requirement," Ocol insisted.

He said the specifications for the 3.2 billion-peso (S$96 million) air force contract, which was awarded to Polish firm PZL Swidnik on September 9, were based on Philippine military flight requirements.

"When you come up with that circular of requirements you look at it based on doctrine and based on actual operational use," Ocol told reporters.

"It isn't possible to influence the specs (specifications) to suit a particular manufacturer in that bottom-up process," Arevalo said in a statement.

The Philippine Star newspaper reported yesterday that the navy contract was yet to be awarded.

The navy's deadline to accept bids for the 850 million-peso contract lapsed last Monday, it added.

"Given the specs, there certainly are other companies who can comply, but the budget could be the major delimiting cause why other bidders may have backed out," Arevalo said. "We hope that the issue can be resolved really soon. We have an acute need for air assets like helicopters."

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