MANILA -- A South Korean shipbuilder that won the Philippine Navy's frigate project has assured the Philippine government that it will continue its utmost effort to support the implementation of the Navy's fleet modernization, after the South Korean Supreme Court barred the former from joining state-led bids over bribery issues.
In a letter dated Jan. 30 to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Sang Hoon Nam assured the Philippine government that the issue is not a matter to be concerned with, as it is totally unrelated to the Philippine Frigate Acquisition Program (FAP).
The South Korean Supreme Court earlier decided to ban HHI from participating in any state-led tender in South Korea after some of its employees were found guilty of offering bribes to win the bid to supply parts for four nuclear reactors to be constructed at the United Arab Emirates. HHI was convicted and penalized with a two-year ban.
Sang noted that the restriction is only effective to Korean government biddings and is not a blacklist action that restricts private contracts, special appointment contracts or other forms of business participation.
"We have confidence that there is no impediment to sign and implement the contract with your esteemed government for the construction of (the) frigate(s)," he added.
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 has a contract of about PHP16 billion, excluding the weapon systems and munitions.
Magdalo partylist Rep. Gary Alejano earlier claimed of impropriety surrounding the FAP deal.
This included the alleged preference for the Hanwha Combat Management System, the lawmaker said.
However, the contract was awarded under the watch of then defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin during the administration of former president Benigno Noynoy Aquino.
A Senate hearing on the allegations surrounding the purchase of warships will be held on Feb. 19 where Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Special Assistant to the President Christopher Bong Go are expected to attend.
Source: Philippine News Agency