By Genalyn Kabiling
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should start leasing Camp Aguinaldo and other military camps this year for the next “99 years,” President Duterte said recently.
The President said he wanted to hasten the lease of military camps so proceeds could augment funds needed to improve the social benefits of the soldiers.
“Do not sell it. I will only allow you to lease it for 99 years, then renewable for another 99 years. That’s a lifetime. That’s billion. If you count it by years, trillion ‘yan [It will be a trillion],” he said during a recent police shootfest in Davao City.
“I want it implemented this year kaya pag-usapan na ninyo ‘yan. I’ve been hurrying up Aguinaldo. ‘Pag na-lease ‘yan, biro mo — kita mo ang Taguig. Tingnan mo ang putok ng Taguig [so begin your discussions. I’ve been hurrying up Aguinaldo. Once it is leased, just look at Taguig. Look at the economic boom of Taguig],” he added.
Duterte admitted that government funds are not sufficient to meet the social needs of uniformed personnel so he proposed the lease of some idle military camps.
He said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has suggested the creation of a state firm similar to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) that would manage the funds from the camp leases and ensure these resources would benefit the soldiers.
He recalled that when the military camp Fort Bonifacio was sold to investors, the proceeds were “mingled with the general fund of the government.”
“I’m not blaming anybody, tutal gobyerno man napunta (besides it went to the government],” he said.
“But this time…magtayuan kayo ng parang GSIS so that ‘yung ordinaryong sundalo, makapag-aral sa anak niya even beyond the four years [you should establish your own GSIS so that ordinary soldiers can send their children to school even beyond the four years],” he said.
He also made clear that the revenues from the lease of military camps would not be used to buy weapons and ammunition.
“‘Yan hindi ‘yan para bala pati baril, wala na — it’s just for social — a social fund — mga sakit, ‘yan (That will not be used for bullets and weapons. It’s just for social — a social fund for healthcare and others],” he said.