Press Release
January 14, 2008


Senator Chiz Escudero today said it will cost taxpayers P3 billion with the planned military surge of adding 3,000 troops to the country's Philippine Army as the government intensifies its effort to "give the final blow to communist insurgents".

While Army chief Lt. Gen. Alexander Yano was coy about the cost of such recruitment when he announced the troop build-up, Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means has come forward to provide the price tag of "the Philippine version of the surge."

Escudero was referring to the term the Bush administration used in beefing up US troops in Iraq.

The senator clarified that he is not against any increase in the troop ceiling of the Armed Forces, "provided that appropriations are authorized by Congress."

"This presupposes the need for the military to explain the reasons for additional personnel before members of Congress. Those who allocate the money must be convinced that there is really a need for such an expense," Escudero said.

Escudero said the right way to do it is through an item in the national budget. He said the executive cannot just write a check for P3 billion without the prior authority granted by the legislature.

He came up with the cost of "the surge" by digging up documents submitted by the Philippine Army and the Department of National of Defense in the course of the House and Senate deliberations on the 2008 national budget.

The Army has a proposed budget of P26. 1 billion for 2008 - about half of the DND's requested outlay of P51.1 billion - but wanted P7.8 billion more "to further enhance its capability and operation readiness ."

The biggest item in the Army's proposed P7.8 billion "supplemental budget" is about P5.9 billion to "activate 12 additional infantry battalions," of about 6,000 men.

But based on Yano's statement last week, this has been pared by half, to 3,000 men, or six battalions of 500 officers and enlisted personnel each.

Using the Army's "costing in mobilizing a battalion," Escudero said the 3,000 additional troops will require P2.98 billion, or:

? P786 million in initial year's salary and allowances ? P364 million in "maintenance and other operating expenses" or MOOE ? P1.832 billion in "capital outlays"

MOOE covers ammunition, food, clothing, gasoline and electricity while capital outlays include equipment, barracks, buildings and vehicles.

"There are also long-term fiscal implications because of the pension of these soldiers when they retire," he said. Pension of retired uniformed personnel is appropriated yearly, which this year will reach P60 billion.

Escudero said "congressional discussion" on the "aim, logic, and cost" of the mulled troop build-up will ferret out the "merits of such an approach in defeating insurgency."

"Is it the quantity of troops or the quality that we want? Have we already maximized the talent and potential of those already on the frontlines by giving them better weaponry, abundant supplies and other material that will improve their morale and their efficiency?" Escudero asked.

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