AFP modernization delayed — Dela Rosa

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 20) — The implementation of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Act has seen several delays and unimplemented projects since it was enacted, Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa revealed on Monday.  

The Revised AFP Modernization Act was signed into law in December 2012. It shall be implemented over a period of 15 years and in three phases: Horizon 1 from 2013 to 2017, Horizon 2 from 2018 to 2022, and Horizon 3 from 2023 to 2027.

"If we go by the dates, we should be in Horizon 3 by now but because of some delays, even Horizon 2 is not yet completed," Dela Rosa said during the Senate hearing on the budget of the Department of National Defense (DND).

Horizon 1 had an initial budget of just ₱75 billion, but it had a projected cost of ₱97 billion for 53 projects. According to Dela Rosa, only 36 were completed, while 17 have not yet been implemented.

Horizon 2 had a projected funding requirement of ₱429 billion for 97 projects. At least 51 were implemented, while the other 46 were not. Dela Rosa said that of the 46 unimplemented projects, seven were carried over to Horizon 3 while the remaining 39 were scrapped.

Horizon 3, meanwhile, had a whopping ₱1.8 trillion funding requirement meant for 37 projects plus the seven unimplemented initiatives from the previous horizon.

Sen. Koko Pimentel asked how much should have already been released for Horizon 3.

Dela Rosa, sponsor of the DND’s budget, disclosed that the agency sought ₱117 billion for 2023 under Horizon 3 of the AFP modernization act, but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only granted it ₱50 billion.

For 2024, the DND asked for ₱115 billion but, again, the DBM only allocated ₱50 billion.

"Upon the completion of Horizon 3, we expect that we will be fully mission-capable of territorial defense for the whole Philippine territory. We term it as the credible defense posture," Dela Rosa said.

Asked by Sen. Risa Hontiveros about the DND's plans after Horizon 3 is complete, Dela Rosa said another military modernization plan would be formulated.

He also said there was no specific roadmap beyond the modernization's completion.

"But we expect na meron tayong gagawin because ang bagong (that we will form a new one because the new) defense strategy is comprehensive archipelagic defense concept," he added.