MANILA, Philippines — The Senate finance committee approved the more than P195-billion proposed 2018 budget for the Department of National Defense but Senator Antonio Trillanes IV wants P500 million from the police anti-drug “Oplan Double Barrel” realigned to augment the military’s intelligence funds.
This was after senators who deliberated the DND budget noted that the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ intelligence fund had been increased by only P220 million next year, for a total of P1.58 billion.
Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said they had asked for a P280-million increase in the AFP’s intelligence fund but the Department of Budget and Management did not grant the full amount they sought.
A number of senators, including Trillanes and Panfilo Lacson, who sponsored the DND budget, noted that this might not be enough given the threats posed by terrorism, as in the Marawi crisis, and larger issues of national security including the West Philippine Sea.
Trillanes said he would introduce an amendment to realign the P500 million intended as the intelligence component of Double Barrel to the AFP when the budget is debated in plenary.
Senator Risa Hontiveros said she would support the realignment and suggested that part of the fund can be used for military modernization and reform.
Trillanes acknowledged he would have to discuss the proposed realignment with his colleagues but was confident they would agree.
While stressing they are not asking for the realignment, Lorenzana said they would welcome any additional funds since they need to acquire more equipment to improve intelligence gathering against terrorists and insurgents.
He added that they could work with the P1.5 billion granted by the DBM.
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