FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City—The Department of National Defense has approved about 10 percent of the 138 modernization projects meant to modernize the military to defend the Philippine territories.
Speaking to reporters on the sideline of the alumni homecoming at the Philippine Military Academy, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin expressed optimism the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Projects will be approved in its entirety until November.
Among the approved projects were the purchase of force protection equipment like bullet-proof vests and helmets, and ammunition for troops, Gazmin said.
Gazmin said the DND has been checking military equipment made in Italy, South Korea, France and Spain, adding that all transactions would be “government-to-government.”
“Tinitingnan na lahat itong mga makakapag-offer sa atin ng equipment na kailangan natin at kaya nating bayaran (We are looking at all these countries that can offer us the equipment we need at the price we can afford),” Gazmin said.
On top of the list are military equipment needed to secure the country’s borders, he said.
“Tinitingnan natin iyong para ma-address natin iyong issue ng territory natin. Kailangan maguwardiyahan natin iyong ating kapaligiran, iyong ating bakuran, upang sa ganon ay hindi naman tayo nalalapastangan (We are looking for equipment that will our territorial issues. We need to protect our environment, our territory, so we would not be transgressed),” he said.
The Aquino administration has earmarked P70 billion for the AFP modernization projects.
In 1995, the Ramos administration enacted RA 7898 or the AFP Modernization Act, which allocated P330 million worth of upgrades for the military spread in a 15-year period. However, only P33 million of the amount was spent and only for capability upgrade.
“Bago matapos ang panahon ng pangulo maipagmamalaki na natin ang armed forces natin… Siguro hindi na aabutan ng 2016 ito, siguro mga 2013 o 2014 meron na tayong maipagmamalaking sariling atin (Before the term of our president ends, we will have an Armed Forces that we can be proud of. Maybe this won’t even take until 2016. Maybe by 2013 or 2014 we will have something that we can be proud of),” Gazmin told reporters.