Gazmin vows no kickbacks from AFP modernization contractsBy Dona Z. Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
No “tong-pats”—kickbacks in street lingo—will figure in the numerous multimillion-peso contracts the government will enter into to acquire trainer fighter jets, helicopters, ships and other major equipment to upgrade the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the contract prices will not be padded by commissions since negotiations with the manufacturers will be made on a “government-to-government” basis.
“There’s no middleman. If there’s no middleman, there is no commission, so the price will go down,” Gazmin told reporters during a symposium organized by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Friday.
In a government-to-government transaction, he said Philippine officials will directly talk to government officials of the country where the manufacturer is based.
While saying the chance of corruption is “very remote,” Gazmin also admitted he could not assure a totally corruption-free process.
“If the two governments decide to do some monkey business, there will be monkey business,” he said in Filipino.
Talking to reporters at this year’s Air Power Symposium, Gazmin said the acquisition of big ticket items will go through government-to-government deals, with discussions already being made with countries like South Korea, Italy, France and Great Britain.
He said the PAF will acquire 21 additional UH-1B multipurpose helicopters to replace the Vietnam War-vintage UH-1H (Huey) helicopters and 10 attack helicopters “within the next two years.”
He also revealed plans to procure three medium-lift aircraft to complement the PAF’s C-130 Hercules cargo plane.
The PAF currently makes do with one C-130 plane as two others are still under repair.
“We are completing our study so that we can select the best possible option for us,” Gazmin told reporters, adding they have not yet made up their minds where to acquire lead-in trainer fighter jets.
In his keynote speech, Gazmin said efforts are being made to provide the PAF with “brand new and reliable air assets.”
He said this includes the acquisition of surface attack aircraft lead-in fighter trainer, attack helicopters, light transport aircraft and medium transport aircraft, “all of which are expected to be delivered within two years from now.”
PAF commanding general Lt. Gen. Catalino Cruz said the government-to-government mode is the “most transparent” process and will provide the “most reasonable” price.