• Where did P63B go?

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    Defense and military officials were told on Wednesday to account for the P63 billion budget allocated since 2002 for the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

    “Money for the modernization program has been in the AFP’s hands beginning 2002. We want to know how it was spent, where it was spent.

    We want to know what their procurement did to the force, how the military condition has changed,” Sen. Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, said at the start of the Senate blue ribbon committee investigation of alleged anomalies in the AFP modernization program.

    The blue ribbon inquiry stemmed from a series of reports of The Manila Times that uncovered an allegedly questionable transaction in the acquisition of 21 combat utility helicopters for the Philippine Air Force. A source of The Times who claimed he was privy to the P1.2-billion contract said graft was written all over the place when defense and military officials opted to negotiate with an American joint venture for the purchase of 21 refurbished UH-1D helicopters.

    Escudero, one of the three senators who sought the inquiry, said from 2002 to 2013, a total of P63.38 billion had been released to the Armed Forces for its modernization program.

    Of the amount, P41.832 billion came from the General Appropriations; P12.958 billion from the remittances from the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA); P1 billion from the Malampaya fund; P6.59 billion from the Department of Energy (DoE); P909.98 million from interest income; and PP92.438 million from the government arsenal.

    “Why is our military still in a sorry state after P63 billion? With this money, we get to ask: Is the Filipino soldier better off than before? Are our soldiers better equipped? Are they better trained? Is their inherent bravery boosted by more confidence in fighting with the purchased arsenals? The answers will show us where this modernization plan can and will take us,” Escudero said.

    “We are no Hercules compared to the formidable forces of China or Japan, so we better equip our military with the right arsenal. There is a dream sequence and there is reality.
    We want to see how they chose between these two in terms of spending,” he added.

    Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told the senators that he will provide a full accounting of the military’s modernization budget.

    The blue ribbon committee headed by Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd suspended its public hearing and reconvened in an executive session on Gazmin’s request.

    Gazmin asked the senators to allow them to make a presentation behind closed doors as matters to be discussed would affect national security.

    “Thereafter, we can go back to open public hearings on issues affecting the procurement and acquisition of protection equipment M113 APC (armored personnel carriers), and the UH-ID aircraft,” he said.

    “Joey,” the whistleblower in the helicopter deal, expressed disgust with the way the Senate investigation was conducted.

    “The Senate blue ribbon committee should not take the issue for granted. {Even if money involved here is not a lot, it still is the money of the government]. Taxpayers money. He has to take a look at the issue with a deeper prospective,” The Times source said.

    “Joey” added that while he understands why security officials sought a closed-door session, he said the legislators should not lose focus on why there was a need to investigate the issue.

    “How was the acquisition process manipulated? Why did it take the blue ribbon a long time to investigate? The people want to know the answers,” he said.

    “Joey,” who is expected to be called as the principal resource person in the investigation, claimed that the helicopter project was just one part of the program.

    “There are many projects involved but the personalities behind are the same,” he told The Times.

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    5 Comments

    1. with all the noise of who made the most, why not ask ex President Ramos the brain trust behind AFP modernization program? Can he name one modern equipment he brought during his term?

      • jasper custodio on

        well i agree with you…Ramos should further elaborate the disbursements of Military Fund intended for the modernization…he speak a lot against the Aquino Administration but can he show any military hardware that was modernize during his terms…GMA should also be accountable in this matter including the Generals…

    2. Where else?

      To the pockets of corrupt AFP officials of course!

      While their low-ranked comrades die in battles with outdated and defective equipment, these corrupt officials enjoy such a luxurious life.

    3. DND/AFP past and present is corrupt,it should be made public the hearing so the public will know,no executive seasons because there are no security being compromise.

      • You make them public there will be coup d’ etat. Senators are afraid of that.