GMA  PUSHES  REVISED  LAW  TO  JUMP-START  AFP  UPGRADE

MANILA,
DECEMBER 22, 2006 (STAR) President Arroyo called yesterday for a revised military modernization law to speed up the upgrading of the poorly equipped Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Speaking at the 71st AFP anniversary celebration at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, Mrs. Arroyo said she wanted to revise guidelines of the procurement law to allow the modernization to be swiftly implemented in a transparent and graft-free manner.

"We will jump-start the process, being careful to be transparent and overtly discouraging the involvement of brokers and middle-men," she said.

Mrs. Arroyo said a finance undersecretary would be involved in the process because "we have many procurement (contracts) which are to be done, government-to-government."

The AFP modernization process is part of the government’s campaign to defeat the New People’s Army by 2010, she said.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said yesterday the military’s priority is to put an end to adventurism within its ranks and institute professionalism among the troops.

Speaking at the anniversary rites, Esperon said the AFP has made great strides in this aspect, as it has shown resolve in prosecuting those who tried to break away from the chain of command.

"Now adventurists would think twice, knowing that they would face the full force of the law," he said.

Esperon said that the AFP’s dedication to remain constitutionalist is combined with internal initiatives to make sure soldiers are prepared to carry their immense responsibilities.

"Tirelessly, we pursue systematic reforms," he said.

"The usual grievances exploited by coup-mongers such as lack of housing, health care and other social services are being deliberately addressed, not only because we want to disprove the false claims of these divisive coup mongers, but because we have always been concerned with the plight of our ordinary personnel."

Esperon thanked Mrs. Arroyo for addressing the soldiers’ needs on housing and health care, and for supporting the AFP capability upgrade program.

"We could not ask for more," he said before a delighted Mrs. Arroyo, who was guest of honor during yesterday’s celebration.

James Mananghaya, AFP


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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