Frigate project still on despite HHI 'troubles'

By Priam Nepomuceno

February 11, 2018, 12:26 pm

MANILA -- The Philippine Navy's PHP18-billion Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP), which was awarded to South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), is "still proceeding on schedule."

This was the remark of Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong when asked about the program's status after HHI was banned from participating in any South Korean tenders for two years after its top executive was found guilty of offering bribes in order to win the bid to supply parts for four nuclear reactors to be constructed at the United Arab Emirates.

The case stemmed in 2013 and in 2015, HHI was convicted and was penalized by a two-year ban.

It sought to have the ban nullified in 2015 and the South Korean Supreme Court on Dec. 22, 2017 ruled with finality against the shipbuilder.

"Wala pang official word from the Republic of Korea (including its Embassy in Manila) as of today, the project is continuing, we are still going for the milestones that are outline(d) and (in the) timeline, (the project is) just proceeding as planned," he added, when pressed on whether the South Korean government has advised the DND to terminate its contract with HHI.

The FAP is one of the key pieces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' modernization program, as it seeks to provide the country with the capability to deal with air, surface and sub-surface threats.

It will be armed with a variety of missiles and guns capable of defeating such threats.

Magdalo partylist Rep. Gary Alejano earlier claimed that the frigate project is riddled with anomalies and that its design was altered from the original.

This includes the alleged preference for the Hanwha combat management system, the lawmaker said.

"There is a proper process prescribed in RA 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act) concerning the termination of a procurement project and there are specific conditions that must be present in order to invoke it, none of which are existing at the moment in this project," Andolong earlier said.

The DND spokesperson also said the anomalies claimed by Alejano are "mere allegations and innuendos" which hardly constitute grounds for termination of the project. (PNA)