THE Philippines landed in another negative list after the Armed Forces of the Philippines was ranked as the sixth worst army in the world, according to a group of former American soldiers who have turned to the Internet to cater to the information needs of United States servicemen.
Calling themselves “We Are The Mighty,” the group said President Benigno Aquino III vowed to upgrade the country’s aging navy and air force to the tune of $1.7 billion and the Congress has passed a bill appropriating $2 billion for the effort, but that is about it.
“Despite the Chinese military buildup in the region, with aggressive moves by the Chinese to claim areas and build islands close to the Philippines, the Philippines’ Naval and Air Forces are still nearly 60 years old and its ships are old US Coast Guard cutters,” the article remarked.
That places the Philippines as the sixth worst army in the world behind Costa Rica, Iraq, North Korea, Eritrea, and Nigeria. Seventh on the list is Tajikistan, followed by Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan.
But Army spokesman Colonel Benjamin Hao said in a telephone interview he could not give an appropriate reaction on We Are The Mighty’s list and said the army is still more than a decade away from its target.
“I can only speak of our 85,000-strong Army which is already in its second base camp in its quest to become a world-class army by 2028,” Hao said, stressing, however, that the army is very much up to par “in terms of skills and training.”
“We’ve also started to modernize our individual force protection and rifle capabilities. As you can see, our mechanized armor capabilities have been tremendously upgraded like our tanks and artillery,” Hao added.
Hao was apparently referring to recent purchases of the military that was part of the P75 billion that Aquino allotted in 2011 to modernize the military.
But the modernization program of the AFP had been stalled by allegations of corruption and even the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, headed by Senator Teofisto Guingona, questioned why 98 percent of contracts of the Department of National Defense were only awarded through negotiated procurement.
Only 2 percent of the contracts awarded by the department in the last two years underwent competitive public bidding.
“In 2013, the data submitted by the DND shows that out of 35,000 contracts, only 650 contracts have undergone competitive biddings,” Guingona said in the Senate probe on the AFP modernization.
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