Imee: Where Is AFP Modernization?

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An increase of barely 1% in the 2020 budget of the Armed Forces of the Philippines showed the country was “dragging its feet in modernizing the military,” Senator Imee Marcos said.

Marcos issued the statement Saturday on the anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, calling for “more robust support for the main protectors of the State” amid the external threats and internal conflict in the country.

“Asan ang AFP modernization? Given the South China Sea threats, ISIS in Mindanao, at ang hindi maubos-ubos na NPA, hindi pa rin ba seseryosohin ang seguridad ng bansa?” Marcos asked.

The AFP budget was increased by just a little more than P2 billion from almost P190 billion in 2019.

Half of the increase was taken from realigned funds of more than P5 billion that the government had saved, after the Senate electoral reforms committee chaired by Marcos succeeded in pushing for the postponement of Sangguniang Kabataan and barangay elections set for this year to 2022.

The Philippines has one of the lowest military budgets among its neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, equivalent to some $3.75 billion for 2020 compared to those of Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore which have ranged from about $5 billion to more than $10 billion in recent years, Marcos said.

Marcos also lamented that the budget for pensions of military personnel was slashed from the General Appropriations Act for next year.

“Tinanggal pa sa GAA 2020 yung retirement budget,” Marcos said.