AFP modernization projects lagging due to 'unforeseeable circumstances': spox

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 14 2021 06:57 PM

MANILA — The Philippine military said Wednesday that several of its modernization projects are facing delays due to various reasons, causing penalties to contractors and cancellation of some contracts.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs chief Capt. Jonathan Zata issued the statement after the Commission on Audit said in its 2020 report that 41 projects worth P6.8 billion were not completed within the contract period, of which 24 remained unfinished as of December 2020.

Zata said two of the 24 have since been completed.

"This was the result of unforeseeable circumstances, issues with licenses, clearances and site possessions, and some due to constraints by the manufacturers or contractors themselves," Zata said of the delayed completion.

"We are further improving to expedite the implementation of these delayed projects," he added.

"We have already noted important lessons so that it won't happen in future projects."

Zata assured the public that the AFP is following provisions of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Act in "managing" the delayed modernization projects.

"Appropriate liquidated damages have been imposed, performance bonds confiscated, and even, contracts terminated. These were all based and being complied to ensure that AFP is compliant with the said procurement law," he said.

Some P114.6 billion worth of projects have been completed since the start of the AFP Modernization Program, starting in the 1980s.

The ongoing projects are worth P381 billion, according to Zata.

"These reported delays amounting to P6.8 billion only represent about 1.37 percent of the total worth of projects. Generally, the AFP is meeting its targets in its AFP Modernization procurement projects but we are still working to do better," he said.

Last year, then AFP chief of staff Gen. Gilbert Gapay urged lawmakers to create a new separate defense procurement act to solve the slow roll-out of the military's modernization program.

Unlike other agencies, the military needs to buy "secret weapons" that cannot simply be published on the government's procurement website, Gapay told the Commission on Appointments.

Complaints from losing bidders also slow down the AFP's procurement process, he said.

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