20 Juli 2015
Spending needed for AFP modernization (image : Wall Street Journal)
MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines is proposing to spend a record 25 billion pesos ($552 million) next year to purchase frigates, surveillance planes and radars to improve surveillance and detection in the disputed South China Sea, officials said on Monday.
The funds to modernise the military are part of President Benigno Aquino's 3 trillion pesos ($66.24 billion) budget bill in 2016, his last year in office. Aquino is no longer eligible to run for a second term.
The budget proposal is 15.1 percent more than the current appropriation of 2.606 trillion pesos, according to Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad, adding the about 80 percent of the proposed government spending "will be eaten up by the forward estimates or the cost of ongoing programmes and projects".
"In 2016, our proposal to Congress is 25 billion pesos for the modernisation programme," Abad told Reuters saying this would be the highest-ever spending for military modernisation in two decades.
Abad said the government's proposed budget, including the defence spending plan, would be submitted to Congress next week after the president delivers his last State of the Nation Address on July 27.
A senior military general, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the press, told Reuters the funds would be used to acquire two frigates, two twin-engine long range patrol aircraft and three aerial surveillance radars.
The rest of the money would be for annual amortization of 12 FA50 light fighters ordered from South Korea. Two planes are due for delivery this December. ($1 = 45.2900 Philippine pesos)