Senator Chiz Escudero wants the Department of National Defense and Armed Forces of the Philippines to account for almost PhP63 billion for the AFP modernization since 2002 until 2013. Escudero wants to know how the said fund changed the condition of military. He is curious why the military is still in sorry state after the said fund was allocated for modernization.
“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,” the senator said.
“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,” Escudero added.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin was asked to provide a full accounting report on the AFP modernization before the next hearing.
The Senate Blue Ribbon, April 6, started its inquiry regarding the allegedly irregular procurement of M113 armored personnel carriers and UH-1D helicopters. However Secretary Gazmin requested for an executive session to discuss threats of various levels and the gaps in military capabilities.
Meanwhile, Senator JV Ejercito vowed to pursue the probe on DND’s procurement of what he called antiquated choppers. “These helicopters are more than 40 years old and yet we bought them in order to modernize the AFP,” he said.
Defense Assistant Secretary Patrick Velez said that procurement of UH-1D was not anomalous and the procurement was due to budget constraints and urgent need. Each refurbished chopper would cost P58 million while a brand-new costs P800 million. The said project was partially terminated with 8 of 21 ordered choppers were delivered.