Sunday, July 19, 2015

Aquino administration gives AFP modernization highest fund allotment

The modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has existed as early as several administrations ago.

It started in 1995, under the administration of former president Fidel Ramos, with the enactment of republic act 7898 or the AFP Modernization Law.

From the targeted 331-billion peso budget for the armed forces, only 56 billion pesos were given in a 15-year period, or during the terms of former presidents Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal arroyo combined.

The huge lack was brought about by the economic crisis at the time.

The AFP was able to complete 91 projects, most of which centered on internal security, such as the procurement of rifles, radios, military vehicles, ambulance units and helmets. But no equipment was bought for external defense.

In 2010, President Benigno Aquino III allocated 31 billion pesos for the modernization program and equipment needed to protect our territory was then bought by the armed forces.

In 2012, Republic Act 10349 or the Revised AFP Modernization Program was enacted. The law aims to lengthen the 15-year modernization program until 2028.

AFP military chief of plans Major General Raul Del Rosario said the program was given more attention under the Aquino administration.

A total of 9.7 billion pesos worth of funds was allocated to the program in 2014.

  “We feel the president's unprecedented support for RA 10349. He really focused on the acquisition of equipment for territorial defense”. Said Raul Del Rosario, Chief of Plans, AFP

Among the crafts and equipment ready for acquisition by the Department of National Defense are 12 fighter aircraft and 8 combat utility helicopters. The AFP also expects to acquire 2 new frigates and long range patrol aircraft next year.

Despite this, the country's defense capability against external security threats remains weak.

  “We are still lacking. We need more equipment to defend the west Philippine Sea. These include long range patrol aircraft, surveillance radars and frigates”. Added Del Rosario

An expert on the law of the sea believes had the Philippines strengthened its defense capability before, we could have prevented the massive reclamation activities of china in the west Philippine sea.

 “We could have prevented the reclamation from the very beginning. We could have had a stronger position in the seas”. Said Prof. Jay Batongbacal, Director, UP Institute For Maritime Affairs Of The Law Of The Sea

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