The Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (AFPMP) has a P45-billion budget for 2023, which is higher than P6 billion compared to last year's appropriation.
“In all, there’s P45 billion for the AFPMP in the 2023 national budget – P27.5 billion in programmed appropriations plus P17.5 billion in unprogrammed appropriations,” Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel said in a statement on Sunday, Jan. 15.
“The P45 billion is P6 billion higher than the P39 billion in programmed and unprogrammed appropriations for the AFPMP in 2022,” Pimentel said.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had originally sought only P40 billion in programmed and unprogrammed appropriations for the AFPMP this year, according to Pimentel.
“We are confident the government will find the money needed to finance this year’s unprogrammed appropriations for the AFPMP,” added the veteran solon, who in the current 19th Congress is a member of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA).
Programmed appropriations have ready funding sources, whereas unprogrammed ones provide standby authority for the Department of National Defense (DND) to sign additional contracts for modernization projects, depending on available government funds, including borrowed money.
“We are forcefully supporting the AFPMP not only because the law requires us to, but also to counteract the persistent swarming of Chinese vessels around Pag-asa Island,” Pimentel noted.
Pag-asa is the largest Philippine-occupied landmass at the northeastern section of the disputed Spratly archipelago.
Pimentel is former chairperson of the House strategic intelligence committee and a strong backer of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States.
He is also author of House Bill (HB) No. 1782, which seeks to appropriate P5 billion for the installation of new naval forward operating bases to secure the West Philippine Sea’s gas and oil deposits “for the enjoyment of future generations of Filipinos".
Last month, Pimentel also introduced HB No. 6228, which seeks to declare Pag-asa as a leisure fishing tourism site to encourage the installation of additional Philippine structures on the 37.2-hectare island.