The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization program (AFPMP) is assured to receive another P40 billion in fresh funding for the military’s capability-building procurement projects, according to Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel.
“The new money for the AFPMP in the 2023 national budget is meant to sustain the periodic payments for multi-year modernization contracts, and to make the initial payments for new acquisitions,” he said.
“There’s P40 billion in programmed appropriations for the AFPMP in next year’s budget, plus P5 billion in unprogrammed appropriations,” he added.
Meanwhile, the government should resume building school libraries to improve student reading comprehension of which the Philippines ranked last among 79 countries tested in 2018, House Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto said today.
“We should end the moratorium on building new libraries. A school without one is like a swimming pool without water,” Recto said.
Library construction, he said, has taken “a long vacation from the national budget as a distinct program with specific funding.”
In 2006, the government allocated P120 million to build 60 library hubs and 12 big learning resource centers, Recto said. The program was still highlighted in the 2014 budget of DepEd but was no longer in the years that followed, he recalled.
For the military, programmed appropriations have definite funding sources, while unprogrammed appropriations provide standby authority for the Department of National Defense (DND) to incur additional obligations for modernization projects, Pimentel cited.
The unprogrammed appropriations would be released only when extra funding becomes available, such as when government revenue collections exceed targets, or when new foreign loans or grants are approved, he noted.
This year, the AFPMP has P29 billion and P10 billion in programmed and unprogrammed appropriations, respectively.
Pimentel said he backs bigger modernization projects for the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Marines Corps in the years ahead.
“We need a naval force capable of deterring potential foreign aggressors at sea,” he said.
“Being an archipelagic nation, we are most vulnerable to external threats coming from the sea. We are seeing this vulnerability now in the West Philippine Sea, where we have difficulty defending and enforcing our sovereign rights,” he added.
In December 2021, the DND signed a P28-billion contract with South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. for the procurement of two brand-new corvettes capable of conducting anti-ship, anti-submarine, and anti-aircraft missions.
In January this year, the DND also inked an P18.9-billion deal with India’s BrahMos Aerospace for the delivery of three brand-new shore-based supersonic ramjet missile batteries.
The DND in June this year also signed a P30-billion contract with Hyundai for the acquisition of six brand-new 94.4-meter offshore patrol vessels for the Philippine Navy.