President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday signed into law Republic Act 10349, otherwise known as the revised Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Modernization Act, which aims to yet again upgrade the capabilities of the country’s military organization.
In his speech after signing the measure, Aquino said the new law will upgrade the 17-year- old AFP Modernization Act, and help the Armed Forces keep at par with other countries’ artilleries.
“Makalipas ang labimpitong taon, hindi maikakaila ang malawak na agwat sa pagitan ng mga antigo at pupugak-pugak na kagamitan ng ating kasundaluhan, at sa mga mas makabago’t high-tech na armas ng ibang mga nasyon,” Aquino said.
The new law, which allocates a budget of P75 billion for the first five years of implementation of the modernization program, amends RA 7898 or the AFP Modernization Act signed in 1995.
Row with China
At the same time, Aquino made a reference to the ongoing territorial dispute with China, saying this is among the new threats the Armed Forces must prepare for.
“Habang bumababa ang bilang ng mga umaanib sa mga grupong komunista, at matapos tayong makapagpanday ng kasunduang pangkapayapaan sa MILF, may iba pa ring mga pagsubok na kailangan nating paghandaan, gaya na lamang ng usaping teritoryal na kinakasangkutan rin ng ibang mas malalaking bansa sa rehiyon,” Aquino said.
The law, which extends the military modernization program for another 15 years, will “boost the AFP’s capability upgrade program as it shifts from internal to external defense capability.”
According to Aquino, the law also institutionalizes the Defense System of Management (DSOM), which will ensure transparency in fund disbursements.
“Para matiyak na pumupunta ang pondo sa tamang paglalaanan at masigurong bawat armas o kagamitang bibilhin ay kailangan talaga para mapalakas ang ating tanggulan, bahagi ng pag-amyenda ang maigting na pagpapatupad ng Defense System of Management o DSOM,” Aquino said.
Among the provisions of the law is the exemption of weapons, equipment and ammunition directly and exclusively used for the AFP’s projects, undertakings, activities and programs from value-added tax (VAT) and customs duties.
Additionally, the law allows for funding from public-private partnerships entered into by the DND as well as multi-year contracts.
At the Defense headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, officials welcomed the development, stressing the extension of the AFP modernization program would lead to more assets for the military.
“We are doing this so that at least we’ll have a minimum credible defense posture in our country, particularly in areas that we have issues, like [the] West Philippine Sea. We need to have ships to patrol and show that we have an Armed Forces,” Defense Undersecretary Fernando Manalo.
Military spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, meanwhile, said: “We express our sincere gratitude to the present administration [for] its continuous and unprecedented support to our modernization and capability upgrade program. We are optimistic that the law will significantly contribute to the development and transformation of the AFP into a multi-mission-oriented force, capable of effectively addressing internal and external security threats.” — Patricia Denise Chiu/RSJ, GMA News Source: GMANetwork.com
Medium-term defense acquisition list (2013-2017)
For the next five years, the AFP has planned to acquire equipment which is listed in its medium term (2013-2017) acquisition list. Included in the list are:
-For the joint aerospace forces (PAF)
- One lot of air surveillance radar (three fixed and mobile)
- 12 fighter/surface attack aircraft/lead-in fighter trainer
- 112 units of munitions SAA/lift And one special mission aircraft
- For the joint maritime forces (Navy)
- One frigate vessel
- Four (ASW-capable) helicopters
- For the joint land forces (Army)
- 1,436 radios
- Six light lift aircraft
- One lot shoulder-launched multi-purpose assault weapon system that includes 24 launchers and 240 ammunition with ILS
- 540 units of rocket launcher light
- 684 grenade launchers
- One night fighting system that includes 4,212 night vision monocular; 4,212 infrared aiming devices; and 48 laser zeroing devices
- Three 1 and 1/4 ton truck Six close air support aircraft
- Four combat utility helicopters
For the General Support, the AFP will be focusing on the Basing Support System and Development for the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Navy since thenAFP is not only equipping but is constantly restructuring and developing its forces and conducting organizational development to further perform its sworn duties effectively.