P 41 billion spent for US military junks is a heinous crime against the taxpaying public, critics insist

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P 41 billion spent for US military junks is a heinous crime against the taxpaying public, critics insist 

MANILA, Philippines— Ardent critics of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III on Wednesday said the Php 41.2 billion worth of taxpayers’ money spent for the modernization of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is a grand wastage of public funds, saying the Philippine government procured Jurassic war materials and only made the US military industrial corporations richer by 40 billion pesos  over the last four years.

“The Aquino administration spent P 41 billion for US junks and this is a heinous crime against the Filipino taxpaying public,” the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said in a statement. ” Those billions of pesos could have been spent to finance much needed programs such as free mass housing, production subsidies, education and health services. The P 41 billion AFP modernization program is the biggest scam since Aquino assumed the presidency in 2010,” the group added.

Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France said Congress should pursue an oversight committee hearing to determine how the P 41 billion taxpayers’ money was spent that includes the procurement of second hand war ships and helicopters from the US government. He said House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Senate President Franklin Drilon should look into this matter given that corruption and puppetry to US is well entrenched and institutionalized in the AFP.

“The P 41-billion public funds spent for AFP modernization should be thoroughly investigated. We are talking here of P 41 billion, the same amount allotted by the national government to rehabilitate Yolanda stricken areas in Eastern Visayas and that is a huge sum of money courtesy of hard-earned taxes from the working people of this country,” the Pamalakaya official added.

France said Congress should start digging into the P 41.2 billion AFP modernization fund and recall in aid of legislation, the P 85.3 billion modernization fund, which the Department of National Defense (DND) had asked for the same program from 2013-2017.

The DND reported that said 16 projects for the Navy were completed in the first three years of the Aquino administration, amounting to P5.3 billion.It said P1.34 billion was spent for three Navy helicopters and Navy warships, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF 15) and the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF 16). The warships, former US Coast Guard cutters, are expected to patrol the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippine Navy, the DND said, is still expecting the delivery of P6.4 billion worth of strategic vessels, additional naval helicopters and amphibious vehicles.On the other hand, the Philippine Air Force had received 18 units of basic trainer aircraft worth P621 million and eight combat utility helicopters amounting to P2.86 billion now used by the Air Force’s 505th Search and Rescue Group.

The Air Force is also set to procure P5.6 billion worth of projects, including the acquisition of light-lift aircraft and attack helicopters to be delivered between 2014 and 2016.The DND said around 21 helicopters will be delivered in the first semester of this year. Meanwhile, the Philippine Army received 12 projects worth P2.8 billion, which include 190 units of 1.25-ton trucks or troop carriers worth P494 million, 60 field ambulances worth P300.7 million, and 250 units of 2.5-ton troop carriers worth P837.65 million.###

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