In Thursday's budget hearing, the Armed Forces revealed that only one bidder, PZL Swidnik of Poland, participated in the bidding and bagged the contract worth P3,180,169,000. The bidding was held last September 9 at the AFP headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo.
Military officials admitted that the P3.2 billion budget was originally for 14 attack helicopters. In December 2009, then Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales announced that the acquisition was down to eight W-3 Sokol combat utility helicopters worth P2.8 billion. But in last week's bidding, the number of units had gone down to seven while the cost increased to P3.2B.
Casiño said it was suspicious that 5 of the 6 interested bidders backed out of the bidding process. These included such big names in the industry like Boeing, Asia Aerospace/MD Helicopter Inc., Eurocopter, Elbit System/Joavi Phils. and the Russian Federation.
"When only one bidder 'qualifies' in any bid process, that is usually a tell-tale sign that the bidding is tailored-fit for one supplier,” he said in a statement.
"You don't usually back out of a P3 billion contract unless you know its a futile exercise, meaning the bidding is rigged in some way. It defies logic that only one bidder can satisfy the requirements set by the DND and the PAF. It would be interesting to know why these reputable companies did not participate," he added.
Ernesto Boac, chairman of the defense department's bids and awards committee, also admitted PZL Swidnik had won another contract last year under similar circumstances.
Casiño warned that another bid opening set on September 23, 2010 for multi-purpose helicopters and C-130 aircraft worth P2.5 billion might be put in peril given the questionable circumstances of the September 9 bidding. "The information reaching my office is that no one wants to participate in the bidding anymore due to the fear that there is already a favored company who will be qualified," he said.