MANILA - Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Thursday said a portion of the Philippine National Police's(PNP) P500-million intelligence fund should be realigned to the military amid the national security issues hounding the country like the crisis in Marawi City.
During a Senate Finance sub-committee hearing, Trillanes said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should be given a bigger chunk of the intel fund, given its huge responsibility to combat terrorist attacks.
“Naliliitan nga ako. Because P5 million will not get you anywhere in light of the security concerns ng Philippine Navy. In the light of the situation in Marawi, palagay ko ito ang mas malaki na problema at mas lalaki pa ito and you know that,” Trillanes told the Department of National Defense (DND).
The DND is proposing a total budget of P195,476,460 for 2018.
In that amount includes the P1.5 billion intelligence fund and the additional P225.61 million additional intel fund earlier approved by the Department of Budget and Management (dbm).
Senator Panfilo Lacson said he also sees the proposed AFP intelligence fund as insufficient.
“'Di enough 'yan. We really need to buy more intelligence information. Kulang talaga,” Lacson told reporters.
He added that the final decision is left to Sen. Loren Legarda, who will defend the DND budget during the plenary debate.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana welcomed Trillanes’s position while adding that they did not ask for the realignment of funds.
“We can live with that. Alam mo naman ang Armed Forces we can do with what we have. Ngayon yung tinatawag nilang realignment nila from other departments, hindi naman hinihingi pero kung bigyan kami, we will be thankful, we will improve our capacities some more,” he said.
For next year, the DND plans to put a bulk of its intelligence fund to address the government’s anti-terrorism operations.
The remaining intel funds will address the issue of insurgency, and other similar issues, Lorenzana said.
During the hearing, Lorenzana asked the panel to support their department’s intention to acquire additional firearms and other equipment from local manufacturers to help Filipino companies improve their products and capacity to produce firearms and other defense equipment such as bullet-proof vests, helmet, and drones.
The DND is scheduled to acquire 16 new Bell 214 choppers, Lorenzana said.
He said guarding the country’s territory is among the department's priorities.
Lorenzana said it would include the increased patrols in the West Philippine Sea, rehabilitation of runway and construction of a pier on Pag-asa island, and constant presence of military personnel to protect Filipino fishermen.
Meanwhile, Dr. Dominador Chong of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center raised the need to acquire more hospital equipment like dialysis machines for soldiers.
Many soldiers they are attending to have kidney failure, he said.
Chong said there are around 425,000 veterans in the country.
Around 8,000 are World War II veterans, which Chong feels will significantly decrease in the next three to five years.