₱9.4-B funds for military modernization projects diverted to COVID-19 response – Defense Chief

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 22) -- The Department of National Defense (DND) is putting on hold over a dozen military projects under its modernization program as it cuts spending to help government fund the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Wednesday that the department has remitted P19.3 billion of unused funds to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

With this, Lorenzana pointed out, there will be a "reprogramming of the budget from some (DND) projects toward the COVID fund."

"Out of the 19.3 billion pesos returned to DBM, 9.4 billion (pesos) was for the modernization (program of the military)," Lorenzana said during a forum along with other department heads in preparation for President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address next week.

Lorenzana, however, explained that most of the projects that will be delayed for a few years "are not very critical to the mission" of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Of the 15 modernization projects that were put on hold for the meantime, Lorezana noted five are considered "big-ticket" items:

-₱3.5 billion for the Army's C4ISTAR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) equipment

-₱2.2 billion worth of equipment and vehicles for the Army's combat engineering units

-₱1.4 billion for the procurement of Army light tanks

-₱800 million for the acquisition of the Navy's landing dock vessels

-₱264 million for the purchase of the Air Force's medium lift aircraft

"These funds are not yet obligated and the procurement process is still ongoing so they can be postponed to later period without affecting the effectiveness of the AFP," Lorenzana said in a message to CNN Philippines.

Other DND funds that were not utilized and turned over to DBM were the P9.7 billion for capital outlay and P125 million for MOOE (maintenance and other operating expenses).

Lorenzana said there is no timetable on when the shelved modernization projects will be implemented since these are "just shoved into the rear for future consideration."