Wednesday, June 20, 2012

PNoy admin gives AFP modernization highest fund allotment, says official

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has received the highest fund allocation for its modernization and Capability Upgrade Program under the Aquino administration, a military official said Tuesday.

"During the first two years of President Benigno Aquino III, the military has received P16.8 billion from various sources, including remittances from the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, General Appropriations, and Malampaya funds," AFP spokesperson Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos told GMA News Online in a phone interview.

"We are grateful of the President's unprecedented support," he said, noting that the modernization program received P34 billion in the 15 years and three presidents before the Aquino administration.

The AFP has implemented 43 modernization and capability upgrade projects amounting to P4.7 billion, of which 19 were delivered.

The Philippine Army received 1,621 Night Fighting System and 6 APC M113, while the Philippine Air Force (PAF) got 18 Basic Trainer Aircraft, four combat utility helicopters, and an aerial camera.

On the other hand, the Philippine Navy obtained two multi-purpose attack craft, four landing craft utility, and 76mm ammunition.

"We are in the process of building our capability. However, we don't have a clear time frame," Burgos said.

"It's very expensive and we can't demand more than what we're capable of. We can't get the budget for health or education. We make do with what we have," he added.

"We have always used the whole-nation approach," he added, noting the importance in enlisting the support of all sectors in the government's security program.

Apparent failure

Similarly, Senator Panfilo Lacson, in his sponsorship speech on Senate Bill 3164 amending the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Act, emphasized the importance of upgrading the country's defense capabilities.

SB 3164 was approved by the Senate early this month.

"This matter [Panatag Shoal] only serves to elucidate the importance of having a reliable military force. While we do not discount the importance of having allies, it is undeniable that our country must have a reliable military force that can readily protect and defend our territory, our natural resources, and most importantly, our people," he said.

Lacson, who chairs the Senate committee on national defense and security, noted the apparent failure of the Modernization Program.

"What was then envisioned as a modernization program turned out to be only a capability upgrade for the AFP. But even at this level, the program still fell short of its target. The basic requirements of move, shoot and communicate of the AFP are substandard and outdated, if not totally lacking," he said.

Lacson attributed the dismal performance of the program to the constant changes in priority lists, the tedious procurement process, the lack of technical expertise, and the corresponding legal restrictions.

He said the revised modernization program addresses the drawbacks of the old law.

"The revised modernization program takes into account the pitfalls of the previous model and incorporates provisions that will ensure a more efficient and cost-effective implementation of the program," Lacson noted.

SB 3164 will be conducted in accordance with the Defense System Of Management or DSOM, "a strategy-driven, capability-based, multi-year planning and execution process," the senator said.

Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo | GMA News Online | June 20, 2012 | Article Link

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