Sen. Risa Hontiveros expressed disappointment at the low remittances of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), saying this has jeopardized the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization program.
Hontiveros said BCD remittances — supposed to help fund the military’s modernization program — is “severely inadequate” and eventually threatens the country’s ability to counter threats and protect its territory.
The senator said she could only hope that the AFP modernization program would not be derailed due to lack of funding.
“It is unacceptable that the BCDA is able to remit what is at best, only one-tenth of the actual funds needed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to upgrade our military capabilities,” Hontiveros said.
The lawmaker issued the statement after new AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gilbert Gapay confirmed to lawmakers during the Commission on Appointments (CA) hearing that the BCDA has a “large amount” of unremitted earnings.
She said that under Republic Act 7898 or the AFP Modernization Act, the BCDA is mandated to submit remittances from its sale and development of former military reservations to help finance the different projects under the multi-year AFP Modernization Program.
“In the CA hearing, it became clear that the BCDA has so far only submitted around P32 billion in remittances. That is only 10 percent of the estimated P300-billion needed to implement pending AFP modernization projects,” Hontiveros pointed out.
“Ang nipis ng halagang iyan at hindi kayang pondohan ang bawat barko, eroplano, weapon systems, at ibang kagamitan na kailangang-kailangan ng ating kasundaluhan (That amount is too low and that is not sufficient to buy ships, jets, weapons system and other equipment that our soldiers need),” she lamented.
She further said the BCDA cited in its financial report in 2018 that it has been allocating 50 to 72.5 percent of its net proceeds from disposition of government assets primarily to the AFP and other government agencies.
“Kaya nakakagulat at nakakapang-hina kung bakit napakaliit ng halaga na pinagkakasya natin para mapalakas ang kakayanan ng AFP (That’s why it’s surprising and disheartening to know how we’re trying to make ends meet with such a little amount to boost our AFP’s capabilities),” she said.