Sunday, August 11, 2013
MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda extends her full support to the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and calls on the government to ensure the release of funds amounting to P75 Billion over a period of five years, as mandated under the law.
Legarda, Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee for the AFP Budget, noted that in the proposed national budget for 2014, only P5 Billion is allotted for the AFP modernization.
“You get what you give," Legarda said in expressing her frustration over the issues that has derailed the modernization of the AFP.
"The revised AFP modernization program requires that at least P15 Billion should be allotted for the program every year to cover the procurement of major weapon and non-weapon equipment and technology, and for the construction of needed major infrastructures. If we withhold support to our AFP, we are, in effect, compromising our national security,” said Legarda.
The first AFP Modernization Law was passed in 1995, allocating an initial budget of 50 billion for the acquisition of new assets for the country's territorial defense to cover the first five years of the law's implementation. During the briefing by the AFP, Senator Legarda was informed that only Php30 billion of the original funding requirement was released.
"In effect, the Php5 billion being requested under the 2014 budget of the AFP is funding that was supposed to have been due more than a decade ago under the 1995 AFP modernization law. We cannot adhere to a "tingi" mentally if we are serious about achieving a stronger and more dependable armed forces," the Senator said.
"We must ensure that the P10 Billion unprogrammed fund, on top of the Php5 billion budget, is released to the AFP beginning 2014 and the years following, if we want an armed forces that can fulfill its mandate of protecting the Filipino people not only from external and internal threats, but also from the destructive consequences of disasters," she stressed, citing that the AFP also has a civil defense component in its budget.
Legarda said that the Revised AFP Modernization Program under Republic Act No. 10349, which President Benigno Aquino III signed into law in December 2012, requires a budget of at least P75 Billion for the first five years of implementation, or P15 Billion every year from 2014-2018.
In relation to this, she also noted that there were proceeds from the sale of military reservations and camps and from the lease or joint development of military reservations.
Legarda said there should be a report on how much have been raised from such sale and to what extent have these been used to modernize the AFP.
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