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Military drops Maestrale plan

The military has dropped plans to buy Italian-made “Maestrale” frigates because studies showed that they will be more expensive to maintain compared to acquiring new ones, according to a ranking official of the Department of National Defense. “The PN found out that it will be more expensive to maintain second hand vessel(s) than buying a new one,” said Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo, adding that the Maestrale was “no longer being evaluated” despite its missile and anti-submarine capabilities. The military, Manalo said, was now looking at buying brand-new naval ships with the same configuration and five countries have expressed their intention to sell modern frigates and patrol vessels to the Philippines. Manalo identified the countries as the United States, Israel, Croatia, South Korea and Australia,bujt he did not specify what vessels the defense establishment was considering. Earlier, Manalo said the defense departyment has started the bidding process to acquire P979 million worth of coast watch equipment, including surface radar, which will be used in securing service contract areas of the Departmen of Energy. Manalo declined to give details on the radar equipment, but said it will be used for command, control and communications and will function as “shipboard eyes.” He said the bidding process will cover five lots with the first one involving the supply and delivery of coastal watch systems worth P866.060 million. The second will involve the supply and delivery of two rigid hull inflatable boats with integrated logistics support worth P63.159 million. The third lot will be for the supply and delivery of firearms, accessories and ammunition amounting to P21.8 million and the fourth deals with the delivery of gas and oil platforms takedown equipment and gear worth P10.6 million. The last lot will be for night vision devices worth P6.3 million. Manalo also announced the opening of the bidding process for P3.99-billion worth of petroleum, oil and lubricants. This bid is under the general appropriation act and can be subdivided into six lots with the National Capital Region topping the list with its requirement of P1.03 billion followed by Luzon pegged at P801 million and Visayas with P269 million. The military’s requirements in Mindanao will reach P1.04 billion while military aviation will reach P775 million. The remaining lot will be for the requiremen tof the DND amounting to P70 million. The project is restricted to Filipino companies or corporations with at least 60 percent outstanding stock owned by Filipino citizens. Bidding will be on Feb. 26 at the conference room of the DND building in Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
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