The Department of National Defense hopes to start the procurement of modern armaments for the Armed of the Philippines in July, with a proposed P75 billion budget, its consultant, former AFP chief General Victor Ibrado, said.
Ibrado, a Negrense, who is on the DND ad hoc committee for the purchase of AFP modern equipment, yesterday said that they hope to be able to do it as processing now last only about six monthscompared to before, when it took two years for just one project.
He said there are 138 projects lined up under the AFP Modernization program that include the purchase of aircrafts for the Philippine Air Force, vessels for the Navy and modern armaments for the Army.
The proposed P75 billion budget will cover 39 projects, intended to boost the AFP capabilities. Among the defense items to be acquired in the next five years are communications equipment, lead-in fighter trainer jets, closed air support aircraft, long-range patrol aircraft, radar systems and engineering equipment.
“I think that is a very good improvement in the process of procuring AFP equipment,” Ibrado, in an interview at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City, said.
The Senate yesterday approved on third and final reading the AFP Modernization Act, after senators noted that the program fell short of its targets.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, and principal author of the bill, said the revised AFP Modernization Program, seeksto rectify the flaws and pitfalls of the previous model and incorporate provisions that will ensure a more efficient and cost-effective implementation of the program.
Lacson said the AFP modernization program under Republic Act No. 7898, which ended last year, had failed in many aspects.
“What was envisioned as a modernization program turned out to be only a capability upgrade for the AFP. But even at this level, the program still fell short of its targets,” Lacson said in his sponsorship speech.
Under the proposed measure, Lacson said, a new system will be introduced to cut down the procurement process from 29 stages to two assessment levels in addition to the actual procurement and contracting stages.
He noted that the “redundant and tedious procurement system” was one of the causes of delay in the modernization efforts. At the same time, he added, the measure will also set the policy of the program to avoid shifts in priorities.*GPB