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Philippine audit points to defence procurement delays

The Philippine's Commission on Audit (COA) has criticised the procurement process of the country's armed forces, stating that delays are hampering capability.

In its annual report on 14 July, the COA said that 41 military procurement projects were behind schedule as of the end of last year. While nine were suspended, one project had been terminated, it said, although it did not elaborate on specific programmes.

The COA said some of the delays were due to the Covid-19 pandemic and were therefore beyond the control of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) procurement planners. However, the report said there were factors “that could have been anticipated or resolved” in the early stages of procurement planning. Such factors included the issuance of permits and the availability of materials.

It added that the Department of National Defense (DND) and the AFP should formulate and implement an action plan to “put back on track the completion of pending projects and to enforce, where applicable, the employment of various remedies” of the Philippines procurement laws.

In response, an AFP spokesperson said the delays were due to “unforeseeable circumstances ... and to constraints by the manufacturers or contractors themselves”. The spokesperson said the majority of AFP procurements progress without delay. “Generally, the AFP is meeting its [modernisation] targets, but we are still working to do better,” he said.

Janes understands that the AFP is also aiming to improve procurement processes through the implementation of new legislation. Senate Bill 1830 was proposed late in 2020 and recommends an amendment to the Philippines' existing procurement law, which is known as Republic Act (RA) No 9184.

The amendment recommends facilitating defence procurement through closed tendering methods, while RA 9184 mandates as default the acquisition of materiel through advertised tenders. Janes

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