US defense deparment awards $77.5-M contracts for Mindanao operations


By Jaime Laude
Thursday, October 2, 2008

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The United States government has approved and awarded two defense contracts amounting to $77.5 million (roughly P3.5 billion) to support the continued stay and operations of its forces deployed in the Philippines.

Focus on the Global South, a Bangkok-based international research institute, said the approved contracts also included $202 million (roughly P9.3 billion), which could be awarded later.

On its website, the US Department of Defense said DynCorp International LLC in Fort Worth, Texas was awarded a contract worth $44,259,606 to provide support services for the Philippine operations of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P).

“The current total contract amount after exercise of this option will be $202,116,113. Work will be performed in the Republic of the Philippines, and work is expected to be completed Sept. 30, 2009,” the website stated.

“Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Pacific, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is the contracting activity (N62742-08-C-1115),” it added.

The US defense department further said that DynCorp International was also awarded a $34,154,949 “cost-plus-award-fee modification to increase the maximum dollar value of a cost-plus-award-fee contract” to provide support services for the operations of JSOTF-P.

The contract is expected to be completed by September 2012.

“Contract funds in the amount of $655,223 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year,” the website said, adding that the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Pacific in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is also the “contracting activity.”

DynCorp International, on its website, described itself as a maritime and avionic specialist with ongoing US-funded military projects in war-torn Afghanistan.

Retired Army general Edilberto Adan, chairman of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) Commission, could not be reached for comment.

The Department of National Defense, for its part, said the contracts are internal between the US defense department and its private contractor.

“(We’re out of it). What is important is they should abide by the rules, pursuant to approved activities while they are here,” lawyer Nelson Victorino said on behalf of Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro.

Focus on the Global South said the contracts only mean that the US government intends to prolong the stay of its troops in the Philippines.

US servicemen are deployed mostly in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Davao, Sarangani and General Santos City.

Cause-oriented groups have raised a howl over the continued presence of the US troops, saying this is in violation of the Constitution.

They also accused the US servicemen of being involved in actual combat operations against terror groups such as the Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaeda-link regional terror cell based in Indonesia.

But the Armed Forces of the Philippines belied this, saying the American troops are engaged in humanitarian and civil-military operations in depressed communities in Mindanao, aside from providing technical support to ground troops. – With Pia Lee-Brago (PStar)

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