(Photo from Armed Forces of the Philippines Facebook Page)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program (AFPMP) is assured of receiving at least another PHP40 billion in fresh funding for the military’s capability-building procurement projects, Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said on Sunday.

“The new money for the AFPMP in the 2023 national budget is meant to sustain the periodic payments for multi-year modernization contracts, and to make the initial payments for new acquisitions,” Pimentel said in a news release.

Pimentel, who previously served as House strategic intelligence committee chairperson, said there is PHP40 billion in programmed appropriations for the AFPMP in next year’s budget, plus PHP5 billion in unprogrammed appropriations.

He said programmed appropriations already have definite funding sources, while unprogrammed appropriations provide standby authority for the Department of National Defense (DND) to incur additional obligations for modernization projects.

The unprogrammed appropriations, he said, would be released only when extra funding becomes available, such as when government revenue collections exceed targets, or when new foreign loans or grants are approved.

This year, the AFPMP has PHP29 billion and PHP10 billion in programmed and unprogrammed appropriations, respectively.

Pimentel favors bigger modernization projects for the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Marines Corps in the years ahead.

“We need a naval force capable of deterring potential foreign aggressors at sea,” Pimentel said. “Being an archipelagic nation, we are most vulnerable to external threats coming from the sea. We are seeing this vulnerability now in the West Philippine Sea, where we have difficulty defending and enforcing our sovereign rights.”

In December last year, the DND signed a PHP28 billion contract with South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. for the procurement of two brand-new corvettes capable of conducting anti-ship, anti-submarine, and anti-aircraft missions.

The 116-meter corvettes would reinforce the Philippine Navy’s existing two lead warships — the guided missile frigates BRP Jose Rizal and BRP Antonio Luna that were both launched in 2019.

In January this year, the DND also inked a PHP18.9 billion deal with India’s BrahMos Aerospace for the delivery of three brand-new shore-based supersonic ramjet missile batteries.

The anti-ship medium-range cruise missiles are meant for the Philippine Marines Corps’ Coast Defense Regiment.

The DND in June this year likewise signed a PHP30 billion contract with Hyundai for the acquisition of six brand-new 94.4-meter offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for the Philippine Navy. (PNA)

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