Panel okays P75-B military upgrade-A A +A
Saturday, September 29, 2012
A BICAMERAL committee has ratified a report seeking to extend the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) by another 15 years.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate ratified the bicameral conference committee report on House Bill 6410 and Senate Bill 3164, establishing the revised AFP Modernization Program.
The proposed law seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) 7898 or the AFP Modernization Act, enacted by former President Fidel Ramos in 1996.
The 15-year period provided in the law expired last December 2011 with only P33 billion of the earmarked budget allocations of more than P330 billion spent.
The proposed law earmarks P75 billion for the first five years subject to the capacity of the Department of National Defense (DND) to utilize and implement the program in accordance with the Defense System of Management (DSOM).
The Revised AFP Modernization Program Planning and Procurement shall be conducted in accordance with the DSOM, which is a strategy-driven, capability-based multi-year planning and execution process.
The measure exempts certain major defense purchases, such as aircraft, vessels, tanks, armored vehicles, communications equipment and high powered firearms, from the requirement of public bidding.
The proposed law also exempts from value-added tax and customs duties, the sale and importation of weapons, equipment and ammunition to the AFP, which are directly and exclusively used for its programs.
A Congressional Oversight Committee, which will be composed of six members of the Senate and six members of the House with chairmen of the committee on national security of both chambers as chairmen, shall be created to conduct a systematic evaluation of the accomplishment and impact of the measure.
Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares opposed the measure, saying the AFP should explain first the anomalies surrounding the Modernization Fund.
"I believe that available funds should be allotted to social services rather than their (AFP) corruption ridden modernization. With corruption, there will be no modernization," he said in a text message. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)