Senators agree to augment Defense department budget
The proposed budget of the Department of National Defense (DND) for 2016 did not only get the nod of the Senate on Tuesday but senators also agreed to raise its appropriation to address possible security concerns of the country.
No less than the chair of the Senate committee on finance, Senator Loren Legarda, admitted that the P116.2-billion proposed DND budget next year was not enough despite the P250-million augmentation contained in her committee report.
Legarda made this admission in response to a series of questions of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile.
“Given the security environment of the country, Madam Chair, do you think that is really a budget reflecting the concern of the government regarding the security of the country?” asked Enrile.
“Considering the multifarious threats not only domestically but internationally and in the region Mr. President, I personally believe that this is not a sufficient budget,” Legarda said.
“In fact as we know, there had been already AFP modernization program to my mind, the first has not yet been fulfilled by Congress. In fact, there’s a second modernization plan which we are funding and so I’m certain that the National Defense establishment will say that they will make do with present resources allocated by Congress,” she added.
Legarda also pointed out that the DND’s proposed budget to the Department of Budget and Management was P202.3 billion but it was slashed to P115.8 billion at the House of Representatives. Her committee approved a higher budget of P116.2 billion.
“So if it’s not enough, is the chair of the finance committee defending and presenting this budget agreeable to augmenting the budget of this department in order to secure the safety and security of the Filipino people, given the (present) security environment of the country?” Enrile asked again.
“Of course, Mr. President. In fact before your interpellation and during the weekend when we were working, I already augmented their budget based on the amendments presented and contained in my committee report today and that includes a P250 million to the Office of the Secretary DND QRF (quick response fund) which was not grated by Congress for year 2015,” Legarda said.
“Apart from the P250 million, there were other requests of the Philippine Army… however, this is still not enough Mr. President. The chair is open within the limits of the P3.002 trillion budget to augment the budget of the Defense,” she added.
Enrile then saw the need to scrutinize the entire budget and “sacrifice some in order to protect ourselves.”
Legarda agreed to Enrile’s proposal, saying that “At a proper time, I would be happy to receive amendments from my colleagues or realignments from other agencies for augmentation to the defense budget.”
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