Lorenzana seeks funding for DND, AFP ‘priority projects’
MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has asked lawmakers to support some of his department’s “additional priority projects” for next year, which have been set aside in the National Expenditure Program.
“Notwithstanding the inclusion of priority programs, activities and projects in the Fiscal Year 2020 of the NEP, may I respectfully request favorable consideration of the following priority projects/activities of the department as congressional initiative from among those which were not considered in the NEP,” he told lawmakers at a budget hearing at the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The following projects, amounting to P6 billion in total, were identified:
- Operationalization of the 11th Infantry Division in Sulu
- Development of Col. Ernesto Rabina Air Base at Camp O’Donnell, Tarlac
- Rehabilitation of Capt. Salvo Pier at Heracleo Alano Naval Base, Cavite
- Support to National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict
- Implementation of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration/ Task Force Balik-Loob
- Mouth Crimping Machine for Bullets
- Additional GASS for new facilities and maintenance of warehouses for the Office of Civil Defense
- Upgrading of the communication system of the National Defense College of the Philippines
- Veterans Hospitalization Program for Philippines’ Veterans Affairs Office
- Drugs and medicines for Veterans Memorial Medical Center
At the hearing, Lorenzana outlined the proposed spending of the Department of National Defense (DND) for next year, wherein the DND ranked fifth in the overall national budget.
Based on the NEP, the defense department has a total allocation of P258 billion — with P188.7 billion for regular funds and P70 billion for pensions.
Mostly for personnel services
As in previous years, the bulk of the proposed defense spending is allocated for personnel costs. The budget does not include the entire spending for procurement of assets for the modernization program.
Most of the increase for next year will cover personnel spending and pensions for retirees and veterans.
Forty-six percent or P119 billion of the allocated P258 billion proposed budget will cover the pay and allowances of the 231,000 active military, civilian and CAFGU personnel.
Maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) has an allocated budget of P40 billion, while there is P29 billion allotted for capital outlay.
“Compared to our budget for this year, our Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal is higher by 1.3 percent. The variances for each expense class is as shown: personnel services with additional P3.24 billion, MOOE with an increase of P1.45 billion and capital outlay with a decrease of P2.26 billion,” Lorenzana told lawmakers.
The decrease of capital outlay was attributed to “non-recurring projects factored out.”
The defense chief said that the P3.24 billion increase in personnel costs, which was recorded at P116 billion last year, could be attributed to the adjustment in pay and allowances of military personnel; increase in the number of civilian personnel based on government manpower information system; and terminal leave and retirement gratuity benefits.
For pensions, the total requirement for AFP retirees increased by 29 percent or equivalent to P12 billion to cover the implementation of the increase in pension of AFP retirees.
The allocation for veterans increased by 6 percent or P740 million due to the increase in old-age pension of World War II veterans, from P5,000 to P20,000, Lorenzana said.
The defense chief has been pushing for the refiling of Military and Uniformed Personnel Pension Fund, a bill that seeks to address the ballooning pension of uniformed services.
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