AFP puppets still amassing profits under the Marcos Jr regime

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Ferdinand Marcos Jr., along with his accomplices in Congress and the Senate, inserted ₱6.17 billion budget for the Department of National Defense into the 2024 national budget he passed and signed on December 20.

In addition, Marcos increased the budget of the Philippine Coast Guard by ₱2.8 billion and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) by ₱1 billion. (The addition almost doubled NICA’s budget from its original budget of ₱1.432 billion.)

Even during deliberations at the Congress and Senate levels alone, the defense budget was already raised by 21.6% from ₱203.4 billion in 2023 to ₱282.7 billion this year. Confidential and intelligence fund amounting to ₱1.5 billion was also added purportedly for operations in the West Philippine Sea. Taken together, the funding allocated to the DND and other security agencies is now the highest since 2017. This is equivalent to more than 1.25% of GDP, the highest in the past 15 years.

Martin Romualdez and Juan Miguel Zubiri, heads of Congress and Senate, say the additional funds are for “dealing with the threat” of China in the West Philippine Sea. DND Secretary Gilbert Teodoro meanwhile said that this is for the “intense and serious repair” of AFP military facilities and equipment. Both purposes serve the US aims of strengthening its power projection and war provocations in the South China Sea and building its network of military bases and facilities in AFP camps, all using the Filipino people’s money.

Military funding was increased after weeks of fending off the threats of destabilization by the Duterte faction. A number of military officers remain loyal to the clique, although many of the favored generals are already retired. Soldiers, as well as police, were fully satiated under Duterte. Their salaries were doubled and excessive amounts of benefits were given them. Hundreds of millions of pesos were rewarded to generals, commanders and soldiers for their extrajudicial killings, mostly of civilians. The Duterte clique poured funds for corruption in the form of the NTF-Elcac’s Barangay Development Program. For six years, the group allocated billions of pesos to buy second-hand jet fighters, ships, drones, cannons and various other military equipment from the US and its allied countries, such as Israel.

At its core, the “modernization” of the AFP is nothing but the sale and dumping of surplus and mostly old US equipment to arm its puppet army. Almost all of its purchased weapons are focused on “defeating” the revolutionary armed movement and not on the “external threat,” as the AFP has repeatedly declared. The joint interest of the US and the AFP is to defeat the revolutionary movement because it is a threat to its hegemony in Asia due to the Philippines’ unique geographical location in the region. For now, the US is strengthening the AFP’s campaign to “crush” the New People’s Army because it wants to fully use the puppet army to incite war with China.

Like Duterte, Marcos uses the large funds for “modernization” to consolidate his hold on the mercenary military and buy the loyalty of the factions held by his rival clique.

The veil of “security” and confidentiality exempts the AFP’s “modernization” from many of processes mandated by the Procurement Law. It avoids public bidding, to deliberately hide the process of arms procurement from the public. Thus, its officials easily manipulate major contracts and the accompanying service and parts contracts.

The AFP spent the biggest part of its funds to purchase jet fighters, drones, helicopters and cannons to launch a campaign of indiscriminate bombing and shelling. The Duterte regime started this campaign which has caused severe damage to civilian communities and forests.

AFP puppets still amassing profits under the Marcos Jr regime