HE Department of National Defense (DND) has ticked off a total of 138 projects geared toward the acquisition of major defense materiel in accordance with the Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization program.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Friday disclosed the listing in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City during the launch of the defense acquisition system in the presence of the military chief of staff and all the commanders of the three major commands—Army, Navy and Air Force—saying that he wanted all the projects sealed within the year.
“Our main responsibility is to ensure the approval and signature of the contracts for all the 138 projects for the AFP modernization and capability upgrade program not later than 31 July 2012,” Gazmin said.
“The common task on hand that we have courageously assumed lies on the brink of proximate impossibility. The factor of time is our adversary. Nevertheless, I am confident that we shall prevail in the pursuit of this objective. This is guaranteed by our unity of purpose and clarity of direction and most of all by our individual dedication to fulfill our prescribed duties and functions,” he added.
Of the 138 projects, 22 would be for priority acquisition of the Air Force while the rest would be divided among the Army and the Navy.
The Air Force vice commander, Maj. Gen. Renato Lorenzo Sanchez, said that the 22 projects would boost their aircraft by 79, of which 56 would be new and 23 refurbished, adding that they would also acquire a 3D radar and at least 30 engineering equipment.
“By 2016, we shall have expanded our air space and maritime domain awareness and provided territorial defense capability. Modernization has been a long cherished dream of the Philippine Air Force and now we are finally in the threshold of realizing this dream, “ he added.
The Navy plans to acquire an additional Hamilton class patrol craft, which is designed to endure high weather; a satellite vessel-tracking system; a fire-control tracking system; and possibly the Philippines’ first submarine, among others.
Its acting flag officer-in-command, Rear Admiral Jose Luis Alano, said that the Navy needed to enhance its capabilities to organize, train and equip its fleet marine team to support and accomplish its mission of protecting and defending the country’s security.
Army chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista said that they needed modern firearms, audio/visual systems, troop carriers, trucks and other war materials.
AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa said that the military in the past years remained consistent in its desire to modernize itself to be at par with the armed forces of neighboring countries but that there is still much to be done.
According to Dellosa, the crafting of the defense system of management, wherein the defense acquisition system is one of the four major components, would ease the rigid nature of procurement and acquisition system at the strategic level that was further complicated by legal technicalities, existing policies and other vital factors.
The three other components of the defense system of management are the defense strategic planning system, the defense capability assessment and planning system and the defense resource management system.
Republic Act 7898 or the Armed Forces Modernization Act declared modernization of military capabilities as a state policy.
It was enacted into law in 1995 with a P331-billion budget to develop the naval, air and ground defense capability of the military.
Of the 331 billion, P164 billion was supposed to be provided by congressional appropriations and the remaining P167 billion would come from different sources, including part of proceeds from sale or lease of military of military camps as provided under the Bases Conversion Act.
Republic Act 7898 provides that within five years, from the time the law was enacted in 1995 to 2000, the amount of P50 billion or P10 billion a year should be allotted to the modernization program but it was not followed.