Gazmin orders shortening of AFP modernization process without sacrificing full transparency

August 2, 2010 11:43 am 

By Ben Cal

MANILA, Aug. 2 -– With outmoded military hardware, Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin has ordered a study to shorten the long process of procuring new equipment such as new ships and aircraft for the long overdue modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) without violating the law, nor sacrificing transparency, accountability and accuracy.

Gazmin said that as ordered by President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, he immediately looked into the AFP modernization program upon assuming his new post as defense secretary last June 30.

He admitted that the process of acquiring new military hardware is slow.

“What I have done now,” Gazmin said, was to “come up with possible, doable solutions. I have seen the process and it’s really long. So I am having it studied.”

Gazmin directed defense and AFP officials to prepare a flow chart showing the progress of the AFP modernization plan, “then let’s sit down and talk about how to shorten the process without sacrificing accuracy, transparency, accountability and no violations of the law.”

“Transparent so that there will be no corruption,” Gazmin said, adding that accountability is likewise important so that it will be easier to pinpoint responsibility” if something is amiss.

The defense chief said there is a group of lawyers conducting the study “to make sure that the Procurement Act in the Constitution will not be violated.”

Gazmin said that planes ordered by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) quite sometime ago are scheduled to be delivered but the process is tedious and long.

“How can we fast-track this? We’re looking at other options. One of the options is what the President said, may mga public-private developer na makikipag-partnership sa gobyerno. Magkakaroon ng lease programs. I-lease yung properties, real estate in exchange for the things we need. That in the nutshell is the program,” Gazmin said.

Gazmin said this is being carefully studied at the moment.

In fact, the plan to transfer the headquarters of the Philippine Navy at Roxas Boulevard in Manila to Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City is still “in the drawing board."

It may be recalled that in 1995, Congress passed the AFP Modernization Act allocating P331 billion for the procurement of new military hardware spread over 15 years.

However, only P31 billion had been spent and the AFP Modernization Plan ends this year with P300 billion unspent.

The Air Force badly needs new fighter planes and helicopters as its air assets are depleted over the years, while the Navy also needs new ships to replace World War II vintage vessels still in their arsenal to secure the country’s coastlines of 39,000 miles which is twice as long as that of the United States.

Maj. Gen. Jose Tony E. Villareta, AFP deputy chief of staff for plans (J-5), stressed the need to speed up the long-overdue AFP modernization program now.

Villareta, a fighter pilot, said the Air Force had long retired the F-5 jet-fighters in 2004 with no replacement.

“The AFP modernization program is long-overdue,” Villareta stressed.

On the other hand, Commodore Roland S. Recomono, chief of the AFP Modernization Program Management Office, reiterated the call for the government to procure new ships for the Navy without delay to guard the country’s territorial waters. (PNA) scs/RBC/mec


One Response to “Gazmin orders shortening of AFP modernization process without sacrificing full transparency”

  1. shevin on August 3rd, 2010 12:35 pm

    What kind of congress we have ? they have budget for pork barrels, but in terms of country’s security they cant allocate?