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Defense budget reduced by P2b

THE government has slashed to P25 billion the 2016 budget of P27,752,655.774.55 being proposed by the Department of National Defense, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad confirmed on Monday.

He said the appropriation would be used to buy modern equipment for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, one of the weakest in Asia.

The P27.7 billion defense budget for 2016 is part of the proposed Revised AFP Modernization Program dated Oct. 29, 2014, with a total amount of P90,858,912,364.56 including P31,106.003,531.90 in 2015 and P18,589,184,038.45 in 2017.

The Defense Department said that of the P90.8 billion budget for 2014-2017, it had P13,410,026,020.06 allocation in 2014 but it has yet to itemize the money.

The Budget Department must be more transparent in releasing figures because Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, in his letter to President Benigno Aquino III dated March 5, 2015, said it appeared that the P90.8 billion defense budget for 2014-2017 for 33 projects had further been slashed to P60,143,404,181.90 with 28 projects.

Gazmin said Aquino “approved in principle” 28 projects under the with a total budget of P60.1 billion during a meeting that the latter presided over on Feb. 17, 2015. Abad and all the AFP Major Service commanders, Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, among others, were also in the meeting.

In his letter, Gazmin said the proposed P60.1 billion budget was for 2015-2017 that he submitted to Abad on Feb. 23, 2015.

Meanwhile, the P25 billion defense budget for 2016 reportedly will be used to buy two frigates, two twin-engine long-range patrol aircraft and three aerial surveillance radars to boost the military’s capability to defend the West Philippine Sea from China’s aggression in the area.

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