DND lacks funds to modernize military
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of National Defense (DND) on Tuesday admitted it still does not have enough funds to modernize the military, which includes the purchase of equipment needed to defend the country amid territorial disputes.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization program requires an annual budget of P15 billion for the next five years. However, under the DND's 2013 budget, the program has an allocation of only P5 billion.
This means the AFP will have to get the rest of the funds elsewhere and not from the national budget.
"We just have to look for funding in order that we can have some credible degree of acquisition of defense equipment to defend our national territory," Senate finance committee chair Franklin Drilon told reporters after a hearing on the DND's proposed P120.3 billion budget for 2013.
Among the equipment the military plans to buy is a warship from Italy, which Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said will be used to guard the country's territories. The Philippines is currently in a dispute with China over some areas in the West Philippine Sea.
Gazmin said, however, that his agency does not have the funds to buy the warship yet.
"It is in the stage short of signing. We are looking at that very seriously and of course, as stated earlier, we have to consider the sources of the funds," he said.
"Ang problema natin, wala tayong perang pambili."
Gazmin and other military officials did not say the cost of the warship nor provided other details about the transaction. Drilon said the Budget Department is looking into realigning some allocations in this year's budget to fund the purchase.
Drilon challenged DND and AFP officials to look for funds for the modernization program. He suggested that the military make use of its vast tracts of land.
"We're looking at how the military camps, the excess land there, can be made more productive," the senator said.
"We have to think out of the box as to how we can generate funds to support the AFP modernization program," he added.