By Charissa Luci-Atienza
MAGDALO partylist Rep. Gary Alejano is batting for a bigger budget for the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), citing the presence of internal and external threats.
He proposed that the two percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)- roughly P350 billion– should be allocated for defense spending annually.
“Kailangang lakihan ho natin kasi malaki ang pangangailangan natin, externally and internally. (We need to spend more because our (security) needs are getting bigger, externally and internally), ” he said.
He said P350 billion should be allocated every year for the AFP modernization program to achieve “credible defense.”
“We are at the mercy of those who have the intention of violating our rights, our sovereignty…which is what’s happening right now,” Alejano said, referring to China’s supposed aggression in the West Philippine Sea.
He maintained that the Duterte administration ordered the AFP to stop patrolling the West Philippine Sea.
He said he is “not making up stories and it is my principle and policy not to say something without basis.”
Based on the information he received, there was an instruction to stop patrolling in the Scarborough Shoal and West Philippine Sea because it might offend China.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza and AFP spokesperson Colonel Edgard Arevalo said there was no such order.
“They can always say we have not received that information or we have not received that instruction. That’s all. Pero kung sasabihing koryente yan at gumagawa lamang ako ng kwento, i think that is already beyond their mandate,” Alejano said.
“I am a legislator. I know that. I can ask them in the budget hearing, I can ask them in a committee hearing nang diretsahan. I am not making up stories. In fact I support the Armed forces. Hindi ako kalaban ng Armed Forces,” he said.