The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) requested Congress to design particular rules for the acquisition of defense equipment to determine the bottlenecks in the overhaul of its apparatus coming from existing government procurement laws.

AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans Brig. Gen. Guillermo A. Molina, Jr. told legislators at the first review of the AFP modernization program that the stringent rules of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act have slowed the agency off in getting extra military equipment in recent years.

A status report exhibited by the AFP at the hearing showed 30 planned projects under Republic Act 10349 or the Revised AFP Modernization Act signed in 2012, only two are currently being implemented while 28 is still in the stage of procurement.

50% of the projects under the older modernization law, RA 7898 marked and signed 20 years ago, have also yet to be implemented.

Department of National Defense (DND) Asst. Secretary Patrick Velez added that, “RA 9184 appears to be not to be completely responsive of the needs of the AFP.”

The delay and slowdown in the upgrade of defense articles and contraptions happen even as P82.48 billion has been assigned allocated for the AFP modernization program.

With suppliers of defense equipment finding the guidelines set by the procurement law “impossible” to meet, Velez asked Congress to either alter and amend the nation’s procurement law to address particular issues defense purchases.

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.

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By: Kevin N