Now, before making any negative comments, it would be best to hear MaxDefense out first and read the entire entry. How we got the score will also be explained later.
To be fair to the government, there were projects that were completed and are now being used by coutnry's armed services, and the men in the field could really be proud of. The Philippine Army has upgraded its communications, mobility, individual and crew served weaponry in the past years. The Philippine Navy has seen its World War 2-era flagship replaced and has new assets to use in both sea and air operations. The Philippine Air Force is now flying with a few new assets for mobility roles, and have been improving its capability in anticipation of new air assets.
These are among the good points the government earned in modernizing the Armed Forces of the Philippines. They might be small steps, and small as they are, they are steps moving forward.
So what is MaxDefense trying to imply here?
All these projects that we see being implemented, and equipment being delivered, are actually part of an earlier program, called the AFP Modernization Program. To those who don't know, there are actually 2 programs involved in modernizing the AFP. The former, and the Revised AFP Modernization Program.
So let's discuss these so-called modernization programs for more clarity. MaxDefense won't be too technical now because the main objective here is to let the ordinary people know what this is all about.
The AFP Modernization Program (AFPMP):
When Republic Act 7898 (RA 7898) was enacted on February 1995 under then President Ramos' administration, it was expected to be a dawn of a new era for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which was then just newly independent from the United States armed forces after their move out of Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base in 1991. This act will be known as the AFP Modernization Act, which encompasses the AFP Modernization Program.
It was supposed to give the AFP a jumpstart to improve its capability without the dependence on US miltiary assistance. The original plan was to provide around Php330 billion pesos over 15 years, divided into three 5-year phases, for the AFP to acquire modern equipment, improve its warfighting, peacekeeping, disaster response capabilities, and be able to defend the Philippines from both internal and external threats. Funding came from the AFP Modernization Trust Fund (AFPMTF), a repository of funds coming from different sources including general appropritations from the annual government budget, remittances coming from the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), and other government sources.
By 2010 or 15 years later, only a small fraction of the Php330 billion was provided due to lack of support from 3 suceeding presidetial administrations, that of Pres. Ramos, Pres. Joseph Estrada, and Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Not enough funds were provided for the AFPMTF, which curtailed the AFP from acquiring its desired equipment to enable it to conduct their duties. Shortchanged, the AFP still tried its best to acquire what it needs with what is available.
It was only for 2010 that Pres. Arroyo increased the allocation for the AFP Modernization Program to more than Php11 billion, the biggest ever since the start of implementation of the AFP Modernization Program.
But with the leadership of Pres. Benigno Aquino III, funding came in consistently than before, starting in 2011. Projects were still lined up under the AFP Modernization Program even after RA 7898's expiration on 2010 after reaching its 15 years effectivity.
The Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP):
To enable the modernization of the AFP to continue with legal basis, on 2012, both legislative houses and Pres. Aquino passed the Republic Act 10349, or the Revised AFP Modernization Act, which extended the existing RA 7898.
Like the original program, the Revised AFP Modernization Act again spanned for 15 years from 2013 to 2028, and it was again divided into three 5-year phases, or Horizons. This will be then called the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP).
Horizon 1 from 2013 to 2017, was originally allocated with Php75 billion, was meant to provide the Philippines with an "effective minimum credible defense posture". This includes the start of shifting the AFP's focus from internal security operations to territorial defense. Budget was later increased to around Php90 billion, and MaxDefense sources confirmed that the government is still trying to push to increase this further due to projects that needed to be implemented that are not included in those listed together for the Php90 billion budget.
Horizon 2, from 2018 to 2023, is a continuation of the earlier phase, making use of the gains made on earlier and will be focused on acquiring capabilities and improving the AFP's capabilities further. The budget allocation still varies, initially the AFP was placing it at around Php140 billion, although newer information obtained by MaxDefense puts it at more than Php500 billion for the 3 armed services and GHQ combined.
Horizon 3, the final phase from 2024-2028, would enable to AFP to be at par, or even better than some of its regional contemporaries. The AFP by then should be effective enough in its mandate to defend the country from external threats, to do humanitarian and disaster relief (HADR) operations, and protect its EEZ and and interests in the West Philippine Sea, and the eastern frontiers of the country. Budget may be somewhere between Php180 billion to a whooping Php600 billion if data obtained by MaxDefense would not be changed.
The implementing rules and regulations of the RA 10349 can be found HERE.
Projects Under the AFP Modernization Program RA 7898:
The coverage of this program spans from an era where online sources are not as effectively maintained as now, and most online information are already gone or have not been updated properly. But at a glance, it covers more than 200 projects from all three services and general headquarters from 1995 until now.
Yes. Until now.
Most of the projects that we have discussed here on MaxDefense until recently, especially those that were awarded, being built, delivered, or are on hold because of irregularities or issues, are mostly covered by the AFP Modernization Program under RA 7898. This includes the following examples of awarded big-ticket items that we are hearing nowadays:
155mm Towed Howitzer (Elbit Systems), 5.56mm Assault Rifle (Remington Arms), Upgraded M113 (Elbit Systems), Rocket Launcher Light (Airtronic USA), and Force Protection Equipment (Achidatex Nazareth Elite-Colorado Shipyard JV)
Landing Craft Utility (BRP Tagbanua), Hamiton-class cutters (BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz), Coast Watch Philippines, Strategic Sealift Vessel (PT PAL), MPAC Mk.1 & Mk.2 (Propmech), and Naval Helicopters (AgustaWestland AW-109).
|The acquisition of 2 Strategic Sealift Vessels for the Philippine Navy are actually covered by the older AFP Modernization Program under RA 7898.|
Photo taken from Tribunenews.com.
Philippine Air Force:
Medium Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft (Airbus CASA C-295M), Light Lift Fixed Wing Aircraft (PTDI NC-212i), Attack Helicopters (AgustaWestland AW-109E), Refurbished UH-1 (Dornier UH-1D), Combat Utility Helicopters (PZL W-3A Sokol).
|The acquisition of PZL W-3A Sokol combat utility helicopters were actually approved before the term of Pres. Aquino. It was only during his term that the helicopters were delivered to the PAF.|
These are the projects that we are now cherishing and happy about! These are the same assets that we have been discussing mostly as good news!
So what covers the new program?
Projects under Phase 1 (1st Horizon) of the Revised AFP Modernization Program RA 10349 :
There are 33 projects covering the RAFPMP under the 1st Horizon covering 2013 to 2017. Of the 33, 9 are for the Army, 10 are for the Navy and Marine Corps, 11 for the Air Force, and 3 for General Headquarters.
The following are the projects covered by the RAFPMP RA 10349:
General Headquarters, AFP:
1. AFP Light Utility Vehicles
2. AFP C4ISTAR System
3. AFP Civil Engineering Equipment
The total amound for all 3 GHQ projects is around Php7 billion.
|The AFP General Headquarters plan to acquire several hundred Kia KM-450 trucks from Korea for their requirements.|
Photo taken from Military-Today.com.
1. Radio, High Frequency 50W for Vehicles
2. Radio, 2 to 5W Handheld
3. Rocket Launcher - Light (Lot 2)
4. Night Fighting System
5. Shore-Based Missile System
6. Tactical Engagement Simulation System
7. Thermal Imaging Device
8. Field Ambulance
9. Armored Personnel Carrier M113
The total amount for all 9 Army projects is around Php9.5 billion.
Philippine Navy and Philippine Marine Corps:
1. ASW capable Naval Helicopter
3. Multi-Purpose Attack Craft Mk.3
4. Amphibious Assault Vehicle
5. Marine Forces Imagery and Targeting Support System
6. Base Support and Logistics
7. Jacinto-class Patrol Vessel Combat System Alignment Phase 3
8. Jacinto-class Patrol Vessel Marine Engineering Upgrade for PS-37
9. 7.62mm Designated Marksman Rifle
10. 5.56mm Standard Weapons System
The total amount for all 10 Navy projects is around Php29.5 billion.
|The awarding of the Philippine Navy's Frigate project to a winning shipbuilder is currently stalled as Pres. Aquino has not yet approved the project, thus budget is also on-hold by the DBM.|
Philippine Air Force:
1. Air Surveillance Radar
2. Close Air Support Aircraft
3. Combat Utility Helicopter
4. Fighter/Surface Attack Aircraft/Lead-in Fighter Trainer
5. F/SAA/LIFT Munitions
6. Long Range Patrol Aircraft
7. Full Motion Flight Simulators
9. Basing Support System for F/SAA/LIFT
10. Basing Support System for Air Surveillance Radar
11. Basing Support System for Long Range Patrol Aircraft
The total amount for all 11 Air Force projects is around Php44.9 billion.
|Only the FA-50 acquisition project (above) and the Bell 412 helicopter acquisition (not shown) have made significant strides of all the projects covered under RA 10349.|
Photo taken from KIA's official FB page.
Now, of all 33 projects, only 2 have been approved and are already being delivered, these are the F/SAA/LIFT which was awarded to Korea Aerospace Industries for their FA-50PH Fighting Eagle, and the CUH whiche was awarded to Canadian Commercial Corporation for the Bell Helicopters Bell 412EP. So there are still 31 projects still languishing in either Malacanang or the DND offices awaiting for approval.
But the Philippine Star recently reported that 28 projects could face delay because until now, Pres. Aquino has not signed the approval of these projects, which will allow the Department of Budget Management (DBM) to provide funding. According to MaxDefense sources, the 28 projects are all the of the remaining 31 projects except the Army's Shore-Based Missile System (SBMS) which is being pushed for realignment by the DND and AFP, and the Navy's 7.62mm Designated Marksman Rifles and 5.56mm Standard Weapons System. These 3 projects are approved in-principle by the President last March, although the SBMS project is currently being planned for realignment by new AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Iriberri, and by the Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin himself.
Who Really Should Get the Credit for the Implementation of AFPMP?
Again, to be fair, it was the Aquino administration who was able to provide the funding for the bulk of the projects implemented from the AFP Modernization Program covered by RA 7898, which were mostly made from 2010 onwards.
But they are not the ones who really can take all the credit if we really want to give it to the responsible people.
All these - the planning, the guidelines, the transparency in the acquisition processes, and the legal foundation for the sources of funding. These were actually pillars erected by previous defense and military leaders and government officials. There are even some projects that could have been acquired and completed earlier if not for the politiking and meddling of current government and defense leaders.
Some examples of projects that were completed during Pres. Aquino's term, but were actually carried-over from the previous administration include:
- Harris military radios, Kia trucks, and Night Fighting Systems (AN/PVS-14 night vision goggles) for the Philippine Army;
- The Hamilton-class high endurance cutters, the Naval Helicopter project, the Jacinto-class upgrade projects, Night Fighting Systems, and the BRP Tagbanua for the Philippine Navy and Philippine Marines;
- The SAA/LIFT project, the W-3A Sokol combat utility helicopters, the Attack Helicopter project, and the Close Air Support Aircraft project for the Philippine Air Force
Do not get MaxDefense wrong, it does not favor certain presidents or leaders to explain this idea. But in fairness to everyone involved, the Aquino administration cannot take full credit for the successful implementation of several big-ticket AFPMP RA 7898 projects.
|The acquisition of the ship which was eventually be the BRP Gregorio del Pilar was actually in an advanced stage when Pres. Aquino took power.|
Photo taken from Gov.ph.
So how did we get the score of 6/100 for the RAFPMP implementation?
Let's do simple math:
Out of 33 projects, only 2 were implemented, as discussed earlier. So that's 2 out of 33.
2/33, or "2 divided by 33", is equal to 0.0606. This is also equivalent to 6.06% in percentage.
6.06% is also equal to "6.06 out of 100". You round it down, and you get "6 out of 100", or simply 6/100.
Remember, we are only counting those under the RAFPMP.
Is the government really proud in getting that miserably failing mark for one of its most important programs and legacies, which is now running in its 3rd year? MaxDefense believes that completing only 2 out of 33 by this time is not something a government should be proud of, harping around that they are serious in improving the Philippines' armed forces, 3 years since the implementation of the RAFPMP under RA 10349. This inspite promises of funding being provided for the RAFPMP from 2013 to 2015 by the annual government budget for those years.
MaxDefense won't go into too much detail anymore as it will only further complicate the issue. People may not want to read what MaxDefense can say so let's put it to that for now.
Experts Agree Too:
People who have experience and are experts on the state of Philippine security and defense affairs have been vocal on a common ground. And they believe that the current administration may not be able to meet it's promise of a "Minimum Credible Defense Posture" by 2016.
Interaksyon recently released a report commentng former military leaders, who themselves were previously involved in the modernization programs of the AFP. And suprisingly, they are also doubtful on the government's capability meet it's goals, aside from not agreeing to the DND and AFP's decision to realign the SBMS project for internal security operations equipment. They agree that the Aquino government has not really bought anything that can effectively address the country's external threats.
Some of the reasons they agree on the slow efforts by the government, among others, are weak defense leadership, corruption, personal interest over organizational needs, and defense and military leaders who are not prepared to tackle external defense needs.
Another recent report also indicated the disappointment of legislators on the implementation of the entire AFP Modernization Program, in light of the changes made by Gen. Iriberri and DND on the decision to realign the SBMS project. This highly questionable move has become a basis if the defense leadership is bent on addressing the externald defense capability of the country.
It should be taken note that country's National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia Jr. repeatedly told the public that the biggest and clearest secuirty threat to our country right now is China's aggression in the West Philippine Sea. With the NPA, Abu Sayaff and BIFF on the run, the MNLF silent, and the MILF wanting for a peaceful solution now, isn't it obvious enough that external threat is the worst national security problem of the Philippines that should be given full and immediate attention by the government?
Let's make 2 more examples of external defense-related projects that highlight the lack of seriousness of the government, AFP and DND leadership to meet its territorial defense needs as soon as possible:
1. There are 2 projects to improve the capabilities of the Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates. First is for a limited capability upgrade to install new radar/sensors and 25mm remote operated chain guns for the two ships of the class. The second is to improve its warfighting capability by installing defense and offensive missile capabilities.
So far, the 1st project has moved slowly, and only BRP Ramon Alcaraz has been installed with two Mk.38 Mod.2 guns. There is no news if the guns for the BRP Gregorio del Pilar were even ordered. Both ships have not receive any new radar as well.
The 2nd project has not moved at all. According to MaxDefense sources, the proposals by several companies to arm the ships with missiles and other systems have been sleeping somewhere in the DND. Among those offered were the ones discussed by MaxDefense in its previous blog entries about the frigates.
2. The FA-50PH were acquired not just because of its lead-in fighter trainer capability, but also because of its ability to be the Philippine Air Force's interim fighter aircraft until new Multi-Role Fighters are acquired in the future. But among those pending the President's approval are 2 projects to acqurie air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, 20mm gun ammunition, and defensive chaffs and flares.
With the FA-50PH already being built and the first 2 units arriving in December 2015, the acqusition of ordnance to be carried by these aircraft has stalled. Even if the President sign the approval this week, it would definitely take more than a year before the first shipment may probably arrive. That means that from December 2015 until that time, the aircraft will be nothing more but training and surveillance aircraft without any capability to fight air and surface targets.
|Without missiles like the AIM-9L/I-1 Sidewinder, which is among being considered for the FA-50PH, then these aircraft will be nothing more but mere training aircraft.|
Photo taken from Wikimedia.
Until President Aquino fails to find the problem within his defense and military leadership as well as his budget allocation priorities, MaxDefense believes that he cannot put into reality his promises of a capable Armed Forces of the Philippines of a "Minimum Credible Defense Posture" by the time he goes down in July 2016.
And with only a few months left for him to close all defense acquisition deals before becoming considered as "midnight deals", MaxDefense does not know how the president and his men can really settle the deadlines.
Another thing that worries MaxDefense: with the current projects already delayed, it would definitely have an effect on the succeeding projects of the Revised AFP Modernization Program covered under Horizon 2 from 2018-2022. Delays now means further delays later on too.
Until then, the best we can hope for now is for him to sign the pending acquisition project approval endorsements under Horizon 1. Only DND now knows how they can make a miracle without making questionable and highly irregular decisions to speed up the acquisition process and awarding of contracts before October 2015.
|Delays now could also mean delays later. We might see the Horizon 2 phase's MRF project pushed a few more years from its original target schedule if the government cannot meet its schedule for Horizon 1 projects.|