MANILA — The Senate on Wednesday committed to increase the 2024 budget of the Department of National Defense (DND), which is currently pegged at P229.9 billion under the National Expenditure Program (NEP).
"We’re going to support an increase in their budget... We’re doing to allot a big chunk in your budget,” Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said.
The budget of DND will fund its operational expenses, including the salary of personnel, soldiers, pension, military hospitals, camps and other needs of the military.
The budget also includes a P50 billion fund for the AFP Modernization Program, which Teodoro said is too small.
Presenting the agency’s proposed budget, Teodoro highlighted the DND’s priority:
- reorganization of DND proper
- military pension trust fund
- new defense strategic direction
- refocus on archipelagic defense and protection of Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction
- revision of strategic basing
- self-reliant defense posture program
“Kailangan talaga external defense na talaga. Kumbaga they will have second thoughts also of intruding our air space or territorial waters. Definitely we cannot match China because they are special power. Pero at least, put that minimum respectable defense posture,” Senator JV Ejercito pointed out.
Ejercito likewise questioned the decrease in confidential and intelligence fund for the AFP and DND.
As per Ejercito’s data, the DND-AFP’s annual CIF are:
- 2018 – P3.6 billion
- 2019 -- P2 billion
- 2022 – P2.3 billion
- 2023 – P1.8 billion
- 2024 – P1.8 billion
“Bakit parang bumaba now that are more sophisticated ang ating kalaban?" Ejercito asked.
“Part of the reason is our MOOE (maintenance and other operating expenses) is increased, so we do not need to charge it to the CF and IF,” Teodoro said.
Still, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa noted that these funds, if finally divided to intended recipients, will already be too small.
“Idi-divide pa yan from DND, papunta sa AFP, papuntang divisions, brigades down the line. At every month nagbibigay ka. So, magkano lang yan,” Dela Rosa said.
Under the NEP, there was a total of P10.14 billion allocated for intelligence and confidential funds.
The DND and its attached agencies' proposed budget was able to hurdle the Senate Finance committee, and it is now deemed submitted for plenary debate.