MANILA (DWDD) – Sen. Panfilo Lacson has proposed the restructuring of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), streamlining of procurement of defense equipment and the imposition of two-year mandatory military service that seeks to improve the country’s capability to fight terrorism and other threats to national security.
According to Sen Lacson, chairperson of the Senate committee on public order and safety, Senate Bill 1734 seeks to update national defense policies, principles and concepts, to institutionalize needed improvements and to codify various laws on national defense, the AFP and civilian bureaus, with the end in view of streamlining and further professionalizing our country’s defense establishment.
Under the SB 1734, the sale of strategic defense real properties is prohibited, unless recommended by the defense secretary and approved by the President with the consent of Congress. Income from the lease or development of defense real estate shall be remitted only to the AFP Modernization Act Trust Fund.
It also exempts from the Government Procurement Law the acquisition by the AFP of special defense equipment, upon prior approval by the President; or when the defense secretary determines that the country’s interests shall be protected by negotiating directly with a local or foreign supplier, “provided that such procurement contract shall be covered by a performance security.”
It also exempts the DND from securing import and other licenses for the acquisition of defense materiel. It also allows it to accept donations, contributions and grants for its functions. But donations from foreign governments or persons shall be subject to existing laws.
The bill also includes the defense secretary in the chain of command. The President will exercise authority over the AFP through the defense secretary, but the President can still issue orders directly to the AFP.
The Women’s Auxiliary Corps and the Technical and Administrative Service will also be integrated into the AFP Component Services under the bill. It also includes the establishment of Warrant Officers in the AFP. These will include highly technical experts, combat leaders, trainers and advisors who specialize in a specific technical area, while on the other hand, the National Defense College of the Philippines will be transformed into the National Defense University of the Philippines. MCAG