The Armed Forces’ P15-billion modernization program for 2013 is still P10 billion short of funds, senators reviewing the Department of National Defense’s P120.3-billion budget noted Tuesday.
Senator Franklin Drilon, chairman of the Senate committee on finance, told officials led by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to find a regular source of funding for the five-year P75-billion AFP modernization program or else it will have to compete yearly with other items in the national budget.
Drilon suggested the AFP put some of its military reservation lands to productive use in order to generate funds for modernization.
Gazmin told the committee that the Armed Forces needs P75 billion—or P15 billion
annually for the next five years—to set up “a minimum credible defense posture” at par at least with other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Discussions on the military’s modernization program come amid an ongoing row with giant neighbor China over territories in the West Philippine Sea.
“The modernization program requires P15 billion a year for the next five years.
“As of now, the source of the modernization fund will be the General Appropriations Act for the next five years,” Drilon told reporters after his committee’s hearing.
“But for 2013, only P5 billion is found in the regular budget and so P10 billion of the modernization program will be placed in the unprogrammed appropriation—meaning we will have to look for funding,” he added.
Defense officials said they were hoping the passage of the AFP Modernization Act would facilitate the release of the missing P10 billion, which they will use to buy new military hardware. But Drilon said the mere enactment of the law wouldn’t be of much help in that regard.
“The modernization law passage cannot be the authority for releasing that P10 billion because if there are no funds other than what is already identified in the budget of expenditures and sources of funds you still cannot release that P10 billion,” Drilon said. Norman Bordadora Source: Inquirer.net
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