Escudero: Where did P63-B AFP modernization fund go?

Senator Chiz Escudero wants the military to account for almost P63 billion it has received since 2002 to modernize the Armed forces of the Philippines (AFP), as the Senate began its probe into questionable acquisitions of equipment and weapons system under the modernization program.

“Money for the modernization program has been in the AFP’s hands beginning 2002. We want to know how it was spent, where it was spent. We want to know what their procurement did to the force, how the military condition has changed,” Escudero said.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, filed Senate Resolution No. 1234 which sought an investigation into the AFP’s questionable procurement to modernize the military. Escudero’s initiative is one of the resolutions tackled during the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing.

According to Escudero, a total of P63.38 billion has been released to the AFP from 2002 to 2013. Out of this figure, P41.832 billion came from the General Appropriations; P12.958 billion from the remittances from the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA); P1 billion from the Malampaya fund; P6.59 billion from the Department of Energy (DoE); P909.98 million from interest income; and PP92.438 million from government arsenal.

“Why is our military still in a sorry state after P63 billion? With this money, we get to ask: is the Filipino soldier better off than before? Are our soldiers better equipped? Are they better trained? Is their inherent bravery boosted by more confidence in fighting with the purchased arsenals? The answers will show us where this modernization plan can and will take us,” he said.

Escudero said the funds appropriated for the modernization program may pale in comparison to the military giants of our neighboring countries but wise, judicious and efficient spending will go a long way in strengthening our military force.

“We are no Hercules compared to the formidable forces of China or Japan, so we better equip our military with the right arsenal. There is a dream sequence and there is reality. We want to see how they chose between these two in terms of spending,” he added.

The senator asked Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin for a full accounting report on the use of the Modernization Fund. The defense chief said he will provide the committee with the said report before the next hearing.#