Thursday, December 27, 2012

Contract for acquisition of Naval Helicopters signed

DND Office for Public Affairs | 27 December 2012 - The contract of agreement for the acquisition of three naval helicopters was signed at the Department of National Defense last December 20, 2012.

          With a contract price of PhP 1, 337,176,584.00 and signed between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and supplier AugustaWestland S.P.A, the acquisition project was done under negotiated procurement through Section 53.2 (Emergency Procurement) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. 9184. 

         “The acquisition of these naval helicopters is one concrete step towards the fulfillment of our goal to modernize the Philippine Navy, and our Armed Forces in general,” Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin said.

         On November 28, 2012, AugustaWestland was declared by the Naval Helicopter Acquisition Project (NHAP) Negotiating Committee as the single calculated and responsive proponent after going through the process of a negotiated procurement.

        The Italian Ministerio Della Difesa conducted a review of AugustaWestland’s proposal for the procurement of AW 109 Power Helicopter, including related logistic support and found out that the price per helicopter “seems to have been progressively reduced”, meaning they were sold cheaper.

         Upon the recommendation of the DND Bids and Awards Committee, the Secretary of National Defense issued a notice of award last December 4, 2012.

         “With the other projects in the pipeline and our planned acquisition, we are now louder and clearer in our intent to upgrade the capability of our AFP to address its constitutional duty to “secure the sovereignty of the state and the integrity of the national territory’,” Gazmin said. ***

Monday, December 24, 2012

PNoy Speech at 77th Anniversary of the AFP:

Coast Guard to get Japanese patrol ships

MANILA, Philippines - Ten brand new Japanese patrol ships are scheduled to be delivered to the Coast Guard from 2014 and 2017.

Speaking to reporters at Camp Aguinaldo, Coast Guard commandant Rear Adm. Rodolfo Isorena said yesterday light guns will be installed on the ships after they are delivered.

“We will be installing the usual .50 caliber machine gun as the vessels would be used for maritime patrol and interdiction operations,” he said.

Built in Japan, the 35-footer patrol ships will be acquired through the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Isorena said two ocean capable ships are on standby for deployment to Panatag Shoal once orders from the political leadership are given.

The Coast Guard is unable to monitor Panatag Shoal after two its ships were disengaged from the area several months ago, he added.

Since the standoff in April, Chinese maritime surveillance ships have maintained their presence in the area on a rotation basis.

C-130B Photos

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Funding issue stalls military upgrade bill

POSSIBLE DISAGREEMENTS with the Executive on tapping royalties from natural gas operations prompted the bicameral conference committee to suspend deliberations on the military modernization fund bill, a lawmaker said.
“We suspended the conference and agreed to get more input on that particular provision,” Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, Senate panel chairman, said in a text message yesterday.
House Bill No. 6410 proposes “a reasonable amount from the share of the national government in the Malampaya oil and gas exploration and such other similar or related explorations for energy” for the upgrade program.
The Senate did not include such funding source in its version due to opposition from the departments of Energy, and Budget and Management, said Mr. Lacson.
Forcing the issue might prompt President Benigno S. C. Aquino III to veto the bill, he noted.
Mr. Lacson further said during the meeting on Wednesday that the term reasonable amount on the funding requirement is “very vague.”
Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo G. Biazon, head of the House panel, then suggested to replace the term with 35%.
Mr. Lacson said the committee will again meet next week to further deliberate on the priority bill.
The house version proposed a 15-year modernization program, with a ₱75-billion budget for the first five years. Senate Bill No. 3164, on the other hand, has earmarked ₱50 billion for the first five years. The previous Armed Forces modernization program under Republic Act No, 7898 ended in 2010.
Upgrading the military’s capability has been considered an urgent issue given the territorial conflict at the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea) which is reported to be rich in oil and gas deposits.
Tensions in particular rose with China in April over the Scarborough Shoal west of Luzon island.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

US, Southeast Asian navies begin annual joint exercises

The navies of the US, the Philippines and four other Southeast Asian countries on Tuesday kicked off this year’s Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) exercises in a bid to
 enhance their interoperability in addressing maritime threats.

Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand also joined SEACAT 2012, which will be held until Sept. 2.

Navy spokesman Col. Omar Tonsay said the exercises are being conducted in Malacca Strait, Sulu Sea and Subic Bay.

The exercises are being held two months after the nuclear-powered US submarine USS Louisville made a port call at Subic.

Louisville is the second US attack submarine that visited the Philippines since Washington bared plans to enhance its presence in the Asia Pacific. The first was USS North Carolina which docked in Subic Bay last May.

Another US vessel, the hospital ship USNS Mercy, also docked in Subic last month to replenish its supplies.

About 200 Filipino sailors from the Naval Forces West and Naval Forces Northern Luzon, four ships and an islander aircraft are involved in the event. The US Navy ship USS Safeguard is also participating in the activity.

“They will participate together with the US Navy in a scenario-driven fleet training exercise against terrorism, transnational crimes and other maritime threats,” Tonsay said in a statement.

The exercises focus on real-time information exchange, coordinated surveillance operations, tracking, and visit, board, search and seizure of target vessels.

“This activity will involve surface, air, and special operations units in the conduct of surveillance, tracking, and boarding of the COI (contact of interest) from the different participating navies within their respective maritime territories.” Navy chief Vice Adm. Alexander Pama said.

A maritime interdiction operations scenario will be conducted at the Subic Bay and at the Sulu Sea.

Coast Watch stations of the participating countries will also be used to exercise their capabilities in surveillance, tracking, communications, and operations.

“With this training, the Philippine Navy will be able to enhance regional coordination, information sharing, and combined inter-operability capability with participating navies in the region,” Tonsay said.

He claimed the activity would also improve the maritime security capability of the military.

SEACAT is an annual exercise conducted at vital sea lanes in Southeast Asia to secure the area from terrorists, poachers, and transnational lawless elements.

It aims to promote regional coordination, information sharing and interoperability in a multilateral environment. - Alexis Romero

Over 60 dead in clashes with BIFF - Army

MANILA, Philippines -- Close to a month of fighting between government forces and a breakaway Moro rebel group has left more than 69 people dead, the Army said Tuesday.

Colonel Prudencio Asto, spok
esmen of the Army’s 6rth Infantry Dvision, said most of the fatalities were fighters of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

He added that fighting had tapered off since Monday when the military captured a number of BIFF camps.

"It's generally peaceful here because we were able to capture several of their camps. They have nowhere to go," Asto said.

Asto said five soldiers and a policeman have died in the fighting while "scores" of BIFF members were injured.

He said soldiers manning checkpoints have been ordered to be on the lookout for wounded BIFF fighters.

The clashes, which have centered mostly on Maguindanao province, began on August 5 when the rebels attacked military installations.

The BIFF said the attacks were in retaliation for the deaths of two members, which they blamed on the military.

An earlier report from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said the fighting had affected 7,800 families. Twenty-two houses also burned down.