POSTSCRIPT / January 22, 2012 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Armscor disqualified from P296M gun bid

NOW OFFICIAL: The Philippine National Police has disqualified the lowest bidder for the supply of 12,368 caliber 9mm pistols, leaving the door open for the next lowest bidders to take a crack at the P296-million purchase.

Director General Nicanor A. Bartolome, PNP chief, has approved the resolution of the bids and awards committee that firearms supplier Armscor be disqualified after its sample pistol, a Tanfoglio Force99, failed in the 20,000-round endurance test.

Bartolome also approved another BAC recommendation that the purchase, with Armscor out, be pursued through an Agency Procurement Request under the same terms governing the bidding initiated in November last year.

The BAC reported that Armscor’s bid was for P16,868 for each pistol, followed by those of Armaments Unlimited offering its Beretta at P18,200, Trust Trade its Glock for P18,940, and R. Espineli Trading its Jericho at P22,680.

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BIGGEST PURCHASE: The deal will be the biggest single arms purchase ever to be made by the PNP. The number grew after the agency consolidated an earlier unfilled order for 5,172 pistols with a subsequent requisition for an additional 7,196, all 9mm and with polymer grip.

There were earlier reports in Camp Crame that the bidding had been aborted, with a new one to be ordered shortly, because the P296,832,000 budget was to be reverted to the treasury since the process was overtaken by the closing of fiscal year 2011 last Dec. 31.

A fresh bidding, it was speculated, would reinstate Armscor as a qualified bidder despite the failure of its sample pistol in the post-bidding torture test. The pistols of the next lowest qualified bidders will be subjected to the same 20,000-round endurance firing.

Possible intervention by Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno, whose turf includes the PNP, is being watched. He has been reported saying that the funds will go back to the Department of Budget and Management and a new bidding held.

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NO REPLACEMENT: In its resolution, the BAC said that although Armscor submitted the lowest bid, its sample pistol “experienced two malfunctions during the actual test and evaluation,” based on the Technical Working Group’s report dated Dec. 27, 2011.

Endurance test rules provide that “no replacement of parts is allowed and there must be no broken/damaged parts that affect the total functioning of the firearm.” This resulted in the Tanfoglio pistol’s post-disqualification.

The BAC resolution dated Dec. 29, 2011, was signed by PNP Deputy Director General Benjamin A. Belarmino Jr., committee chairman, and Chief Supt. Felipe L. Rojas Jr., Director Rey I. Llanada and Senior Supt. Ulysses J. Abellera, members.

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BROKEN PART: The Belarmino committee cited the Dec. 27 report of the TWG on Weapons that supervised the testing of the Tanfoglio:

“… upon reaching the 15,646 mark (13 rounds after second malfunction), the sample pistol once again encountered a malfunction. Upon examination, the malfunction was due to the failure of the trigger to reset. The sample gun was again disassembled by the Armscor technician for any broken parts and the following was observed by the TWG:

“… the pin from the trigger-sear assembly was visibly broken and split into several pieces during the course of the disassembly by the Armscor technician.”

Random interview with policemen said they trust the judgment of the PNP brass on weapons procurement and that they want quality performance in their service pistols.

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OVERPRICING: At the Sandiganbayan, meanwhile, as in the Senate impeachment trial where politics has reared its head, the graft court is under pressure to eschew politics in its handling of the case of overpriced lampposts for the 12th ASEAN Summit in 2007.

The case arose from the purchase in 2006 of decorative lampposts for main avenues of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu cities where dignitaries attending the Summit in Cebu in January 2007 were expected to pass.

The complaint alleged that the single-arm lampposts were priced at P72,500 each when the prevailing cost was only P6,000, and that the double-arm lampposts were priced at P85,500 each when the cost outside was only P7,500.

The lampposts were bought and paid for by the Department of Public Works and Highways, but nothing has been heard about DPWH officials led by then Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. being actively prosecuted for graft.

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ALL-DPWH JOB: Instead, local officials of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu who had signed papers as end-users are the ones being hounded at the Sandiganbayan.

The accused have pointed out that the fund allocation, its release and disbursement, bidding, award and signing of contract, and supervision of the project, were all done by DPWH officials and workers.

The case took on partisan color after the Lapu-Lapu mayor cited in the case was suspended right after he filed his certificate of candidacy in 2007. He is pleading that the case be decided based on the facts and the law, and not on political considerations.

The graft complaints were initially filed at the Ombudsman Visayas office, which endorsed the case to the Sandiganbayan. With the filing of the complaints, then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez stopped payments for the project.

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KDF MISSION: The pterygium surgical mission last Jan. 16-19 of the Kapampangan Development Foundation at the JADMC performed 61 cataract and 39 pterygium surgeries, according to KDF president Benny Ricafort. Thanks goes to the Capanalig Lions, Dr. Letty Drapiza and Dr. Eric and Vicki Lohse, CPA/RN, for organizing the mission and donating more than $50,000 worth of eye equipment and medical supplies, as well as to Drs. B. Samonte, S. Santos Jr., Lawrence Roxas, L. Santiago, E. Santos, to May and Tony S, and SUKOB, Rotary.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 22, 2012)

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