22 Juli 2015
Php25 billion of the Php75 billion will be used to acquire two frigates, two twin-engine long range patrol aircraft, three aerial surveillance radars, and pay for the amortization of 12 FA-50 light fighters. (image : Navantia)
MANILA (PNA) -- The proposed Php75-billion military modernization budget for 2016 “sticks out like a sore thumb” and will undoubtedly be subject to greater scrutiny in the House of Representatives, a party-list lawmaker said Wednesday.
“We have yet to see the actual budget proposal, but based on what the Department of National Defense has announced yesterday, the AFP Modernization Program will get a substantial bump in the 2016 budget, from the current P20 billion to P75 billion. That’s a substantial increase, and if DND and the AFP think this proposal can get a free pass from Congress because they’re using the West Philippine Sea issue as justification, then they’re wrong,” Kabataan Party-list Rep Terry Ridon said.
According to DND, Php25 billion of the Php75 billion will be used to acquire two frigates, two twin-engine long range patrol aircraft, three aerial surveillance radars, and pay for the amortization of 12 FA-50 light fighters.
“While the DND is keen on emphasizing the need to strengthen our nation’s maritime defense, we have to put this budget request in context. Since the enactment of the AFP Modernization Act in 1995, Congress has been appropriating billions for military modernization annually. It’s already 2015, and we still have weak maritime defense and creaking World War 2 era ships. So we need to ask the DND and the AFP to report on where the billions sunk into the modernization program went,” Ridon explained.
As bulk of the budget request of the DND will be for the procurement of new military equipment and facilities, Ridon also said that the budget request is “highly vulnerable to corruption.”
“The AFP is still reeling from the Php1.2 billion defective chopper deal. And when it comes to financial accountability, the military is not exactly a shining example,” the youth lawmaker said. “This is why we cannot just let the military to get its budget approved in toto. Every item will be scrutinized and debated on, and we’ll leave no stone unturned,” he added.