MANILA -- “Send Our Troops Home”, maybe be a popular slogan in the United States, but for Filipino troops, Senator Escudero said it should be “Send Our Troops Out!”

Escudero said Wednesday that sending more police officers and soldiers to United Nations peacekeeping missions will benefit the country's arsenals.

He added the UN reimburses nations for sending troops and equipment to global hotspots.

Buying modern equipment and having the UN repay the Philippines for the investment could be the key to upgrading the country's armed forces and police.

“We want the optimal force and equipment deployment. The country will stand to earn more if it deploys equipment-heavy units instead of infantry battalions to allow it to receive more reimbursements from the UN,” Escudero pointed out.

The senator proposed setting up a separate fund for peacekeeping missions that cannot be realigned for other purposes.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate national defense committee, said he has been talking with the foreign affairs and defense departments as well as the military and police to include the fund in the 2011 national budget.

“We want to actively pursue our international commitments and at the same time accrue benefits for the country and our soldiers and police. The UN peacekeeping could become a viable source of modernizing our defense system if we are able to put in place proper funding and operational mechanisms into our participation to these missions,” he said.

The proposal is timely because the 15-year-old Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Fund has lapsed. The modernization fund had an initial appropriation of P331 billion but that was spaced out over 15 years because there was no money for it. (Jonathan de Santos/Sunnex)