'Achieving credible defense still on track'

By Alexis Romero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 23 2015 10:31 AM | Updated as of Jul 23 2015 06:31 PM

MANILA - The military remains optimistic that the Philippines will attain its goal of achieving a credible defense posture even if the Armed Forces modernization program is still awaiting President Aquino's approval.

“Some projects are already underway. Others are already completed. We are just finishing some contracts,” Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato said.

The Department of National Defense (DND) defines “minimum credible defense posture” as the establishment of an effective force presence inside the Philippines and its exclusive economic zone.

It also pertains to exhibited competence to defend the country and protect its national interests when the need arises.

DND spokesman Peter Galvez said the President is carefully scrutinizing the items in the modernization program.

“In view of due diligence and as part of the process, the Office of the President has to review the program as it does all programs of government,” Galvez said.

Earlier, The STAR reported that 28 projects worth more than P60 billion could be delayed because Aquino has not yet signed the AFP modernization program.

Without the President’s approval, the acquisition of equipment for territorial defense and internal security cannot proceed because their budget will not be released.

Among the items that could be affected are surveillance radars, warships and air assets that could be used to patrol the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The big-ticket items in the still unsigned program include two Navy frigates worth P18 billion; three air surveillance radars, P2.68 billion; six close air support aircraft, P4.97 billion; two long range patrol aircraft, P5.98 billion; multi-purpose attack craft, P864.32 million; night fighting system, P1.116 billion; two C-130 aircraft, P1.6 billion; two naval helicopters, P5.4 billion, and lead-in fighter trainer jets ammunition worth P4.47 billion.

The procurement processes for some of these items have been put on hold pending approval of the modernization program.

Under the revised Armed Forces Modernization Law, the President, upon the recommendation of the defense and budget secretaries, shall submit the program to Congress within 60 days from when the law took effect.

Sources said the program was forwarded to Malacañang in February 2013, two months after the measure was signed into law by the President.

The DND insisted that the implementation of the AFP modernization program is not delayed.

“There is no delay in the processing of the AFP modernization program. The DND and AFP are very grateful for the President’s support in the ongoing modernization process.

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