Outgoing Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on Friday that the six-year administration of outgoing President Benigno Aquino III has spent at least P60.14 billion to buy equipment under the capability upgrade and modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“I am happy to say that through the strong support of President Aquino, we have gained significant progress in the implementation of the AFP capability upgrade and modernization program with the release of P60.14 billion pesos from July 2010 to April 2016 and extended to the Philippine Army its modest share of the implementation of the said program,” Gazmin said in his speech during a testimonial review given to him by the Philippine Army at Fort Bonifacio.
“I depart from our Defense department on June 30, 2016 contented and pleased that I am leaving behind my endeared institution, the Philippine Army, the immortal monument of courage and patriotism in the defense of our citizenry and their treasured social and democratic ideals,” he added.
Gazmin, a former Army chief and a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1968, has served six years as the alter-ego of Aquino in the defense department.
Aquino had earmarked after his assumption to power a total of P75 billion to modernize the AFP to at least achieve a “minimum credible territorial defense.”
Such a promise, however, was not fulfilled because of corruption and other issues that beset the Defense department, such as the controversial P1.2-billion helicopter deal with an American-based company.
Gazmin together with some co-terminus defense officials, military officers and private individuals are facing plunder charges filed before the Office of the Ombudsman by whistleblower Rhodora Alvarez, a director of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, in connection with the botched chopper contract.