No longer Napoles-type scams in military supply obtainment
President Rodrigo DutertePresident Rodrigo Duterte has assured the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that he would not tolerate any more rigged nbiddings in that resulted to soldiers getting killed or maimed in battle due to subpar or defective armor and bullets. In a speech in Camp Siongco, Cotabato City on August 18, Duterte said that soldiers would get the best guns and brand new equipment under his watch by asking the Commission on Audite to do away with the lowest bid system which awards the contract to the cheapest offer but at substantial cost to quality.
“Kalokohan iyan. Even dito sa lowest bid, lowest you’d never know kung ang di-neliver talagang Kevlar, o kaya noong nagalit si (Guillermo) Wong sa navy noon, si Admiral, pinagmumura niya iyong marines. Eh, hindi naman kasalanan ng Marines, kasalanan ng asawa ni Napoles, taga Navy,” said Duterte.
“Ano bang kasalanan ng Marines? Pero dahil nga iyong Kevlar na di-neliver, actually was not Kevlar. Makita mo iyong isa doon na sundalo, tinamaan dito, sumabog ng—those are the—kaya kung magdating sa iyo Kevlar, Kevlar talaga iyan,” added Duterte. Duterte was referring to the alleged anomalous sale of 500 Kevlar Helmets to the Philippine Marines in 1998 by pork barrel queen Janet Lim-Napoles and her husband, Jimmy, a retired Marine major. The Napoleses were charged with malversation in court but the case was dismissed by then Sandiganbayan Justice Gregory Ong. The Supreme Court kicked out Ong from the Judiciary in 2014 after ruling that Ong cooked the Kevlar helmet case in favor of Napoles.
Ong’s dismissal of her Kevlar scam emboldened Napoles to embark on much bigger scams such as looting pork barrel funds in cahoots with lawmakers through bogus foundations and ghost beneficiaries. It was the honest Wong who exposed the Kevlar scam and the shenanigans in the military procurement process. He chose to retire rather than be transferred at the behest of Marines officers who didn’t like him meddling in their scams. Wong was Duterte’s first choice as Bureau of Internal Revenue commissioner but the former turmed the President down.
Duterte said he would only have two countries that would supply military equipment that he did not name. “Eh, bilihin mo iyon ‘no, suksukan iyan ng bakukang iyan, makikinig na sila. Kalokohan. So you can buy it only in… iyong the best talaga,” said Duterte.
Among weapons Duterte fancied on buying were shoulder-fired rockets. “Baka ma-fire upon tayo, para makaganti naman tayo ng kaunti, medyo malayo ang aabutin,” Duterte said.