The Philippines may have missed an opportunity to have four sophisticated unmanned sea vessels (drones) in its military inventory that a Turkish defense contractor offered free in parallel to building six Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV), an executive said.
The Turkish state-owned defense technology contractor ASFAT had offered P29.5 billion for the construction of the vessels, as stipulated in the terms of reference by the Philippine government.
Esad Akgun, ASFAT chief executive officer has written a letter to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and then-Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, to clarify the sudden removal of the in-country production and technology transfer scheme in the project.
Akgun said ASFAT has fully complied with the requirement set by the Philippine government having signed a deal with a local shipyard in Bataan to build the OPVs.
But despite the Turkish government’s efforts, the project was shelved and instead awarded to a South Korean shipyard firm.
Similarly, the supposed construction of the six OPVs in the country which could generate 4,000 jobs for Filipino shipyard workers that would cushion the impact of the pandemic, dims after the Turkish OPV project was lost to the South Korean shipyard.
The offer by Turkey was considered the lowest compared to South Korean firm at P30 billion, the total budget earmarked by the government for the project. ASFAT cited that the construction would cost only P25 billion if the vessels are assembled in Turkey’s soil.
“ASFAT has invested a lot of man-hours, financial investment, and preparations for the OPV project including conducting site surveys at local shipyards to provide in-country production,” Akgun said.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has written then-President Duterte, endorsing the state-owned defense contractor to supply six OPVs and two corvettes, but was apparently set aside by the department’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC)
The South Korean shipyard Hyundai Heavy Industries has won a contract worth P18 billion for the construction of guided-missile frigates.
The Volunteer Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) has written the Marcos administration to stop the deal with the South Korean firm describing it as a midnight deal grossly disadvantageous to the Philippine government.