MANILA (Mabuhay) – A Defense official on Wednesday disclosed that the military needs at least P600 billion for the modernization of the country’s armed forces.
In a press conference, Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo, chairman of the Department of Defense’s bids and awards committee, said that the figure should be the least amount that the government should pour in its armed forces to reach the “credible deterrence” expected of an equipped armed forces.
He explained that the basis of his estimate is the 1995 AFP Modernization Program under Republic Act (RA) 7898, which said that the military should have been allocated with P331 billion for its modernization program.
However, only P33 billion was given to AFP.
“To implement the first, second, and third horizon of the modernization program… dapat doble noong pondo na ibinigay noong 1995 dahil sa inflation after 15 years, so it should cost at least P600 billion,” he said.
Under the revised AFP modernization program under Republic Act 10349, the government should allot P90.86 billion to the AFP from 2014 to 2017.
Out of this amount, the lion’s share worth P44.9 billion will go to the Philippine Air Force for 11 different projects. This includes the procurement of air defense surveillance radar, long-range patrol aircraft, combat utility helicopter, flight stimulator, and close air support aircraft among others.
The Philippine Navy will have the second largest share with P29.46 billion for 10 projects including the acquisition of frigates, helicopters, multi-purpose attack craft, amphibious assault vehicle, and standard weapon system among others.
The Philippine Army will have an allocation amounting to P9.5 billion for nine projects, while the AFP general headquarters will have about P7 billion for three programs.
The Army is set to procure rocket launcher light, night fighting system, and thermal imaging device.
Last year, the AFP set aside P13.4 billion for its revised modernization program. This year it will allocate P31.1 billion, while it is set to allot P27.76 billion and P18.6 billion for 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Manalo said that the humanitarian assistance and disaster response and the security of the West Philippine Sea will be the focus for this year’s procurements, while the internal security operations will take the back seat.
While the amendment to the modernization law was passed in 2012, President Benigno Aquino II has yet to sign the Revised AFP Modernization Program, which was submitted last year, Manalo said.
The effect, according the the undersecretary, is that the program may be bid out but pending an award.
“May go signal na from the Department of Budget and Management to continue implementation but we cannot proceed from implementing,” he said.
“May prosesong sinusundan at importante ang due diligence at dapat talaga ma-scrutinize ang mga project,” he added. (MNS)