Funding issue stalls military upgrade bill -(by BusinessWorld http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Funding-issue-stalls-military-upgrade-bill&id=57709)
POSSIBLE DISAGREEMENTS with the Executive on tapping royalties from natural gas operations prompted the bicameral conference committee to suspend deliberations on the military modernization fund bill, a lawmaker said.
House Bill No. 6410 proposes “a reasonable amount from the share of the national government in the Malampaya oil and gas exploration and such other similar or related explorations for energy” for the upgrade program.
The Senate did not include such funding source in its version due to opposition from the departments of Energy, and Budget and Management, said Mr. Lacson.
Forcing the issue might prompt President Benigno S. C. Aquino III to veto the bill, he noted.
Mr. Lacson further said during the meeting on Wednesday that the term reasonable amount on the funding requirement is “very vague.”
Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo G. Biazon, head of the House panel, then suggested to replace the term with 35%.
Mr. Lacson said the committee will again meet next week to further deliberate on the priority bill.
The house version proposed a 15-year modernization program, with a ₱75-billion budget for the first five years. Senate Bill No. 3164, on the other hand, has earmarked ₱50 billion for the first five years. The previous Armed Forces modernization program under Republic Act No, 7898 ended in 2010.
Upgrading the military’s capability has been considered an urgent issue given the territorial conflict at the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea) which is reported to be rich in oil and gas deposits.
Tensions in particular rose with China in April over the Scarborough Shoal west of Luzon island.
This issue is simple and full of political shit! Their only problem is a part of the law that says “a reasonable amount from the share of the national government in the Malampaya oil and gas exploration and such other similar or related explorations for energy”. Senator Lacson and other Executive Department agencies want it to be specific. What their concern is right, but it should not be a cause of delay. We need this bill enacted now!
The DND cannot proceed with the acquisition of the T/A-50, Maestrale-class Frigates, MBT and IFV, and other equipments if the bill wont be enacted immediately. The Chinese are already in our doorsteps. So lets unite and let our government officials know that we want the AFP Modernization Bill enacted as soon as possible. We cannot afford delays!
And on my own opinion, the phrase “reasonable amount” stated on the bill is just right. Cong. Biazon proposed that we allot 35% of Malampaya Gas Project revenue to the AFP Modernization. I don’t agree with that. Because if that 35% ceiling became a part of a enacted AFP Modernization Bill, and if a war broke out, the government will not be able to use all of the Malampaya funds to acquire modern military equipment even it is already an emergency. Because it will be technically unlawful since it only stated on the Bill that only 35% will be used for the AFP Modernization. The Senate even proposed that instead of P75 Billion for the first five years of the Modernization, it should only be P50 Billion. I say, what the heck?! That is only gonna be enough to buy the main equipments that we need. How about the minor but important things as well? Like upgrading the bases and facilities? For example, we bought the T/A-50, but in 10 years it will be irreparable instead of 15-20 years because the outdated facilities (e.g. Hangars and Ground Crew) cannot accommodate and maintain the requirements of a Modern Aircraft. But that’s just me. If you think what our politicians are right, I will respect that.
But just to conclude this, lets support this bill and tell our Bicameral Congress (Senate and House of Representatives) to stop the bureaucracy horse-shit enact this bill as soon as possible!
“The military is not the Armed Forces of the Government, it is YOUR Armed Forces. Support them, Trust them, and Love them.” -the Author
(Sorry for the words. I am just pissed on what they were doing.)