Malampaya TRO seen to affect AFP modernization program
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order on the release of funds from the Malampaya natural gas project will affect the military’s modernization program, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said.
“It will affect the modernization because we get funds from there, such as [the funds for] the maintenance for our two cutters,” he told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo, referring to the country’s weather high endurance cutters, BRP Gregorio del Pilar and Ramon Alcaraz.
The two cutters were acquired from the United States Coast Guard.
BRP del Pilar, known as Gorio, is used to patrol high seas, including the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Alcaraz, meanwhile, has yet to be commissioned by the Philippine Navy before it goes to deployment.
“We get our funds to refurbish, and as well as the items we need to install to these ships there. It will definitely affect the modernization,” he added.
He said that they might not be able to maintain the cutters, but cited that there are other sources aside from the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization fund of P75 billion from the general appropriations, such as hefty remittances from the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.
“Maybe [the TRO] will not last long. They will eventually understand the needs of the Armed Forces,” Gazmin said when asked if the modernization will be significantly derailed.
Last month, the SC issued a TRO against the release of pork barrel and Malampaya funds.
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