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AFP needs P75B for modernization

MANILA, Philippines—The Armed Forces of the Philippines needs P75 billion in the next five years to upgrade its capabilities and provide the country with a “minimum credible defense posture.”

Defense Undersecretary for Finance Fernando Manalo said AFP brass had asked Congress to allocate P75 billion from 2013 to 2017, or P15 billion a year, to revive the military modernization program that lapsed two years ago.

The 15-year modernization program that began in 1995 under the Ramos administration ended in failure in 2010 despite the profitable sale of vast military lands.

According to military officials, only 10 percent or P33 billion of the promised P331-billion allocation for 15 years had been given to the AFP.

Manalo said Congress’ approval to continue the modernization program by funding a five-year acquisitions plan until 2017 for modern naval and air defense assets was “very critical.”

The country is currently defenseless against external threats, according to him.
Manalo said AFP planners had identified 39 projects worth P75 billion to be implemented over five years.

“Amending the law on modernization is very critical… We can’t afford not to pass it,” Manalo said in a news forum with the defense press corps on Friday.

Among those to be acquired are lead-in fighter trainer jets, close-air support aircraft, long-range patrol aircraft, radar systems and engineering equipment.

“We want the capability to be able to monitor our maritime and aerospace. We want to have domain awareness. To achieve that, we need radar, long-range patrol aircraft, coast-watch stations, ships, fighter aircraft,” Manalo said.

The military modernization budget as envisaged will be over and above the regular budget of the AFP, which mostly goes to personnel salaries.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin presented the P75-billion proposal to President Aquino on May 25.

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